( 4UMF NEWS ) Yankees Pitcher Hit In Face By Line Drive:
Yankees rookie starter Bryan Mitchell exited Monday night’s game in the second inning after he was struck in the head by a line drive off the bat of Twins shortstop Eduardo Nuñez. He was visibly bleeding before walking off the field alongside trainer Steve Donohue, but the young pitcher appears to have escaped grave injury.
The Yankees later announced that Mitchell was taken to New York Presbyterian Hospital, where he was diagnosed with a small nasal fracture. Team doctors would monitor him for concussion symptoms, but he was released from the hospital and returned to Yankee Stadium as his club beat the Twins 8-7 in 10 innings.
“I talked to him, and he said he’s feeling fine,” said reliever Caleb Cotham, who entered the game for Mitchell in the second inning. “He’s here, somewhere. I think he’s doing well, all things considered.”
Cotham and left fielder Brett Gardner noted that they think the ball tipped the bill of Mitchell’s cap before striking him. Catcher Brian McCann was one of the first to rush to the pitcher’s side.
“You’re sick to your stomach, just praying for the best and hoping for the best outcome,” McCann said. “When i went out there, I was like, ‘You all right?’ He’s like, ‘I’m all right. I’ve just got to get off the field.’ That was good that he was responsive.”
Mitchell, 24, was making his third career big league start after the coaching staff decided on Sunday to give the rest of the rotation an extra day of rest. Entering the night, the right-hander was 0-1 with a 3.72 ERA with 20 strikeouts in 19 1/3 innings this season. Mitchell suffered an injury in a minor league weight room in late July, when he fell and bumped his head.
Nuñez’s line drive ricocheted off Mitchell into centerfield for a run-scoring single. New York rookie reliever Caleb Cotham entered the game and struck out Aaron Hicks to end the second with the Yankees leading 3-1.
Several pitchers have been similarly struck in recent years, often with scary results. Dodgers pitcher Brandon McCarthy, then with the A’s, was struck in the head in 2012 and later needed surgery because of bleeding on his brain. Tampa Bay Rays starter Alex Cobb sat out two months after he was struck near the left ear by a line drive and suffered a concussion. While with the Blue Jays in 2013, current Pirates pitcher J.A. Happ endured a minor skull fracture after he was hit in the head.
In April of this season, Indians pitcher Carlos Carrasco was hit in the face. He suffered a bruised jaw and some swelling but no broken bones.
Major League Baseball has approved the use of a protective cap with thick, foam padding, but Mets reliever Alex Torres is the only pitcher to use it. A few other pitchers wear a hard carbon cap fiber insert, according to ESPN’s “Outside the Lines.”
Manager Joe Girardi said he called the training room after the second inning ended to check on Mitchell.
“I got the feeling that it was going to be OK,” Girardi said. “Obviously you worry. There a lot of scary things that can happen. We’ll watch him closely tonight.”
Mitchell, the Yankees’ No. 2 pitching prospect, had a 3.12 ERA in his 15 starts in Triple A this season. His fastball was reached as high as 98 miles per hour before he exited the game. He is known to have a plus curveball, too.
“We’re just very, very thankful it’s not worse than it is,” Gardner said. “I’ve always thought he’s got a great arm and a bright future, so I’m excited to get him back here soon.”