09/30/2004 6:45 PM ET
Indians pitcher wounded by bullet
Denney OK after being struck in calf by stray shot
By Anthony Castrovince / MLB.com
|Kyle Denney, Wednesday's Indians starter, is reportedly OK after being hit by a bullet. (Charlie Riedel/AP)
MINNEAPOLIS -- Kyle Denney's go-go boots were made for walkin'. But they might have also prevented the Indians right-hander from suffering a serious gunshot wound.
Denney was wearing the knee-high boots -- along with a blonde wig and a red USC cheerleader's outfit -- as part of an annual initiation ritual for Tribe rookies after the team's 5-2 win over the Royals on Wednesday night. The ritual carried over from Kauffman Stadium to the team's two buses, which motored toward Kansas City International Airport.
The bus Denney was traveling in was on a ramp between Interstates 435 and 70, at around midnight ET, when a bullet pierced the passenger side and struck Denney's right calf.
He initially thought a firecracker had gone off.
"In the sense of it being rookie initiation night, I thought it was just another prank," Denney said Thursday. "I thought it was somebody throwing a firecracker or something. It felt like it had hit me and just kind of blown up."
Denney's calf began to sting. He reached down and felt a dime-sized hole in his right boot. When he pulled his finger away, he found it streaked with blood.
Denney, the only person injured in the incident, called out to team trainers Lonnie Soloff and Rick Jameyson, who rushed over and checked out his leg.
"I was bleeding a little bit, but the trainers got that down," Denney said. "Rick was feeling with it and felt something hard in there. Then Lonnie went over and got some gloves, came back and, just like a pimple, he popped it out."
The bullet was rather easy to pop out -- the go-go boot Denney was wearing might have prevented more serious damage.
"It was just one of those things," Denney said. "It was a pretty thick boot. Obviously, going through the bus probably slowed it down quite a bit, then going through [the boot] had to slow it down some more. If I had had my regular suit on, who knows how far it would have gone in?"
The bus continued its trek toward the airport, where the Kansas City Police Department began investigating the incident. As of Thursday afternoon, no suspects had been named.
"It appears that [the shooting] was a random incident," Royals team spokesman Aaron Babcock said. "So it would appear this would not be a case of the Indians being a target, from what the police have indicated to us."
Airport paramedics transferred Denney, who had started and picked up a no-decision against the Royals earlier that night, to St. Luke's Northland Hospital in Kansas City. He was treated and released by 3:45 a.m. ET.
Denney, who rejoined his teammates in Minneapolis on Thursday, said he remained calm throughout the ordeal.
"I felt very at ease with it," he said. "Yeah, I got shot, but it wasn't like it hit me in the chest or the neck."
Denney's parents, who had attended the game in Kansas City and were en route to their home in Oklahoma at the time of the incident, were a little more concerned when their son called and told them what happened.
"I called my mom, because I didn't want her to find out on TV," Denney said. "I told her, 'Just relax, and it's not as bad as it seems.' She took it really well at first, then she called 20 minutes later. I guess it sunk in what had happened. My dad called about 5:30 a.m., and my cell phone's been going crazy ever since."
Denney, a September callup from Triple-A Buffalo who went 1-2 with a 9.56 ERA in four starts for the Indians, was not scheduled to pitch in any of the Tribe's three remaining games against the Twins.
He said the only time he's felt pain since the incident came when he showered Thursday morning and water seeped into the wound. He did not receive any stitches.
The 27-year-old Denney took the incident in stride.
"I've joked about it afterward," he said. "'Oh, what'd you do today? I got shot.'"
But the seemingly random shooting did have Denney thinking about how much worse it could have turned out.
"I was fortunate enough that it didn't ricochet and go up," he said. "It struck somebody in the leg instead of somewhere more fatal. I just want [the shooter or shooters] to have an idea of what they're doing. If it had been a child [in the bus], it would have been terrible."
While police continued to look into the matter, Denney tried to go back to his normal routine.
"It's been a strange 12 hours," he said.
Anthony Castrovince is a contributing writer for MLB.com. MLB.com reporter Dick Kaegel contributed to this report. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.