Unlike many teams around major league baseball, the Seattle Mariners have been relatively healthy this spring. They’ve had a few minor dings and dents – a stiff neck here, some tight legs there - but they’ve avoided the season-affecting injuries that can cripple a team.
It looked as though that run of good fortune was going to come an end on Saturday afternoon at Peoria Stadium in a 10-5 loss to the Cleveland Indians.
In the top of the second inning, starting pitcher Blake Beavan delivered a 1-0 fastball to touted Indians prospect Francisco Lindor. The switching-hitting infielder – batting left-handed – took a wild hack at the pitch, missing badly. And yet there was the sound of his wood bat colliding with something a second after the pitch went by.
It wasn’t the ball. It was Jesus Montero’s head and catching helmet.
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Lindor’s follow through on the swing drilled Montero on the right side of his head. Even with a protective helmet, the contact was too great. The catcher crumpled to the ground and into the fetal position upon contact. He lay motionless in the dirt as Mariners trainers and manager Eric Wedge rushed to his aid.
After a few minutes, they were able to sit a groggy Montero upright. It was then the egg sized knot on the right side of his forehead became visible. The trainers then got Montero to his feet and had him carted off the field.
Preliminary tests revealed that Montero did not suffer a concussion from the incident.
“I was just hoping he was ok, and the reports are that he is,” Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. “It’s always scary when something like that happens up around the head.”
Montero has battled concussions in his past. Last season, he took a foul tip off a 92 mph fastball from Hector Noesi right on the forehead of his mask. It left him woozy on the field. He was later diagnosed with a minor concussion and missed a handful of games.
Wedge said he would meet with Montero after the game to see how he’s feeling. It’s likely he could miss a few days.
Wedge joked that it might take a few days for massive welt to shrink so Montero is able to get his helmet on again.
What wouldn’t have been funny is if Montero would have had to start the season on the disabled list. The Mariners only have one catcher – Kelly Shoppach – on the roster. The team would have likely used to Jesus Sucre as his back-up, but they would have had to put Sucre on the 40-man roster. With the potential of a few other non-roster players making the team, having to make an additional roster move might have cost the Mariners a player or two.