Eaton lends support to injured hockey player
D-backs outfielder pays visit, arranges phone call from 'mascot' Berman
PHOENIX -- When he first went to visit Matt Sorisho in the hospital, D-backs outfielder Adam Eaton figured he would be the one lifting spirits that day.
Instead, it was Eaton who came away with inspiration.
"He's really a strong, strong person," Eaton said.
Sorisho, 17, suffered a severe spinal cord injury while playing hockey in early October, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down.
Eaton's brother-in-law, Zach Osburn, was a teammate of Sorisho and the two go to Catholic Central (Mich.) High School together. Eaton spends the offseason shuttling between Ohio, where his family lives; Michigan, where his wife Katie's family is; and Arizona.
"We heard about his incident and we went along when Zach went to visit him," Eaton said.
And what he saw surprised Eaton.
"He's just very determined, very focused," Eaton said. "He is very optimistic. He has a vision of what he wants to do. He already had a plan. 'I can't take this course now because I have to use my legs so I'll take this other course instead.' He found out there was a way he could still participate in hockey."
While he was visiting, Eaton noticed a life-sized cardboard cutout of ESPN broadcaster Chris Berman next to the bed. Apparently Sorisho had taken a picture with the cutout at a local restaurant prior to the accident, and after he got hurt, his buddies -- well, let's just say they "borrowed" it from the restaurant and brought it to Sorisho at the hospital.
"So Chris Berman's kind of been like a mascot, kind of been with him the whole time he's been in the hospital," Eaton said.
That got Eaton thinking, so he called D-backs public-relations man Pat O'Connell and asked if there was some way of getting a message to Berman. O'Connell did just that and Berman wound up calling Sorisho.
"Anything to raise his spirits we're trying to do," Eaton said.
The hockey community has rallied behind Sorisho. He got a visit at the hospital from Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock.
Phoenix Coyotes forward David Moss graduated from Catholic Central in 2000 and while he was in Detroit for a game against the Red Wings, he visited Sorisho. He also wore Sorisho's No. 18 Shamrocks jersey during warmups for the game in Detroit.
Other NHL players have reached out to Sorisho through Twitter.
"It's just like baseball: It's a very small world and when someone is in need, you try to help them," Eaton said of the hockey community. "It's unbelievable the support that he's gotten. It seems like the Phoenix community, especially the Coyotes, have really touched base with him and tried to help as much as possible."
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Inside the D-backs, and follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.