There’s nothing scarier in baseball.
A line drive struck so hard that the pitcher doesn’t have enough time to recover from his delivery and protect himself. J.A. Happ lived that nightmare last night.
The incident occurred in the second inning. Happ toed the rubber facing off against Rays outfielder Desmond Jennings with runners on second and third. The left-hander’s offering was smashed up the middle, a blazing line drive off the bat of Jennings.
The ball was struck so hard, Happ did not have time to react. He couldn’t get his glove up in time. He couldn’t do much more than flinch as the baseball struck him in the side of the head.
Jennings ended up with a triple on the play, but no one watching paid that any notice. On impact, Happ immediately fell to the ground clutching his head. Close-up shots showed blood oozing from his ear.
Jays and Rays alike were visibly shaken – and none more so than Jennings – as medical staff placed a motionless Happ onto a stability board and carried off the field on a stretcher. Before he exited, Happ raised his hand to the crowd.
Happ was conscious, responsive and talking as he was taken to Bayfront Medical Center in nearby St. Petersburg, where he was kept over night before being released earlier today.
Thankfully, Happ suffered only a head contusion and a lacerated ear. As often is the case, things could have been much worse. The Blue Jays have placed the 30-year-old starter in the 15-day disabled list for now, and will continue to monitor his progress closely.
In the meantime, Toronto has called up right hander Edgar Gonzalez from Triple-A Buffalo to fill in until Happ is ready to return.