Bard fastball sends Patterson to hospital
Blue Jays outfielder plunked in head during eighth inning
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- In the blink of an eye, perhaps less, Corey Patterson's night went from a successful two-hit night to a major scare.
Batting in the top of the eighth inning on Friday night in what turned out to be an 11-8 victory over the Red Sox at City of Palms Park, the Blue Jays left fielder got hit in the head by a Daniel Bard fastball.
On a 1-1 count, Bard, one of the harder throwers in the American League, unleashed a fastball. Patterson never had time to get out of the way, turning to his left as the ball struck him in the back of the helmet.
Patterson dropped to the ground, holding his head. After being checked over by the trainer, Patterson first got to his knees and eventually got to his feet slowly. He did walk off the field, with some assistance from the trainer and manager John Farrell. Patterson was replaced by pinch-runner Ricardo Nanita.
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"There's no preliminary report or anything," Farrell said. "He's gone to the hospital to get a CT scan. He was conscious when he came off the field, obviously. Until further tests come back, there's no real report yet."
"I think they think he's OK," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona, who spoke to the team doctor following the conclusion of the game. "I don't care what uniform you have on, it kind of makes you sit back and take a deep breath. That's scary. You could see Daniel's reaction there. I think he was a little shook up, too."
It will be up to the medical staff at the hospital in Fort Myers as to whether Patterson will have to stay overnight for observation, but Bard spoke to Patterson and felt a little comforted following the conversation.
"I just went and watched it on video," Bard said. "You could see by my reaction [that] it scared me as much as anybody. It was good that he was obviously moving around and they were talking to him. When I got back in here, I had them call over to make sure he was OK. He said he was doing fine. But to make sure, I got our trainer to call their trainer, and I actually talked to him on the phone.
"I spoke to him on the phone. It was a quick conversation. It was more the concept. I wanted him to know that I didn't do it and then not think twice about it. I feel terrible doing that."
The 31-year-old Patterson came to Blue Jays camp as a non-roster invitee, having signed a Minor League contract. Assuming health, he's in line to break camp on the 25-man roster as the team's fourth outfielder. He had two hits and a stolen base in Friday night's game to bring his Grapefruit League average up to .220. He's gone a perfect 4-for-4 in stolen-base attempts.
Jesse Litsch, now penciled in as Toronto's No. 5 starter, also went to the hospital. The right-hander, who gave up four runs on 11 hits over 4 2/3 innings against the Red Sox, went to be examined due to dehydration. Prior to that, it was obviously an up-and-down outing for Litsch, who will get one more outing in a Minor League game on Thursday before his first regular-season start.
"He threw his secondary stuff for strikes," Farrell said. "However, the biggest thing that stood out was some inconsistent location with his fastball, particularly down in the zone. He elevated some pitches, and that's when he got hurt. We don't expect him to be a power-type pitcher to pitch off his fastball exclusively, but he's got to use that down in the zone a little bit more.
"He's shown on multiple occasions this spring where he's done just that. He's well aware of it. He can see the swings and the reaction of the hitters when he doesn't locate down in the zone particularly, but he'll have one more outing here in camp."