Tribe's Huff hit by liner; CT scan negative
Results show no brain damage after scary moment for starter
NEW YORK -- They could laugh in the aftermath of the scary situation that had played out in the Bronx on Saturday afternoon. They could look at the golf-ball-sized knot on the left side of David Huff's head and joke about that head being hard as a rock.The Indians could breathe a little easier because Huff had survived the Alex Rodriguez liner that struck his noggin, just above the left ear, and bounced all the way into right field for an RBI double. Not only that, but he was walking, talking and moving around just fine. Huff had left what turned out to be a 13-11 win by the Tribe in the bottom of the third on a motorized cart, been taken to nearby NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center, passed a CT scan, received an evaluation from the doctors and was back at Yankee Stadium by the end of the four-hour, 22-minute ballgame. He never lost consciousness, suffered no memory loss and did not have any brain damage. "He doesn't have any concussive symptoms right now," manager Manny Acta happily reported postgame. Huff was not made available to reporters. Nor was head athletic trainer Lonnie Soloff.
Amid an outpouring of well wishes, Huff tweeted the following to fans at about 7:30 p.m. ET on his Twitter page at @DHuff11: "Everything is good. It was a little scary, but I'm out of the hospital now and with my family. Thank you all for your concern and support."
Doctors told Huff to limit "external stimuli" for a period of 12-18 hours, so the Indians planned to make him available Sunday morning.But in watching Huff interact with his teammates in the visitor's clubhouse, it was clear he was in good spirits and much better health than would have been anticipated by anyone who saw him slump to the ground mere hours earlier. It was, then, a scary situation with a happy ending, for Huff and for Rodriguez, who showed clear concern for his fallen baseball peer. A-Rod asked the Indians for the 25-year-old Huff's cell phone number so that he could reach out to him. He also released the following statement through the Yankees: "Your heart stops. You want so badly to take it back. You're scared. You think of him, you think of his family. You think of the million other places that the ball could have gone other than where it did. Why there? We're playing a game -- a game. I know it's business, too, but for all of us playing, it should always be a game first. When something like that happens before your eyes, it makes you think long and hard about things much bigger than throwing or hitting a baseball or running around the bases for a few hours a day." Rodriguez wasn't the only one with such thoughts. Huff's teammates had gathered around the mound as medical personnel immobilized the pitcher, flipped him on his back, talked to him to ensure consciousness, placed him on a backboard and carted him off. "That was the first time in baseball where I was fearful for somebody's life," center fielder Trevor Crowe said. "Everybody who was part of that gathering on the mound was very fearful." Their fears were allayed when Huff raised his right arm and gave a thumbs up as he was carted off. That drew a rousing round of applause from the 46,599 in attendance. "Thank God Huff's all right," first baseman Matt LaPorta said. LaPorta, like everybody else in attendance, was stunned when the ball ricocheted off Huff's head and landed in the outfield. That tells you all you need to know about how hard that ball was smoked. "I panicked," LaPorta said. "I didn't know whether to chase the ball or [Huff]." On the play, Nick Swisher scored, Rodriguez was in safely at second and Mark Teixeira went to third. Immediately after reaching second safely, A-Rod placed his hands on his helmet with a look of dismay on his face. Huff (2-6, 5.54 ERA) was charged with another run when reliever Aaron Laffey, brought out in the emergency situation, gave up a sacrifice fly to Robinson Cano. In 2 1/3 innings, Huff was charged with three runs on five hits with a walk and two strikeouts. Obviously, that line was the least of his worries. Huff followed the proper procedure in that situation. He fell to the ground and remained motionless as the training staffs from both clubs rushed to the scene. "Most guys who have been in the game a while know to just lay down so they don't disrupt anything else," Acta said. But that didn't do much to calm the initial concerns of those looking on. Seeing Huff lie limp on the mound, one couldn't help but think of the Indians' all-too-established history with scary moments against the Yankees. On Aug. 16, 1920, Indians shortstop Ray Chapman was fatally hit in the head by a pitch from the Yankees' Carl Mays. Chapman is the only casualty of an on-field injury in the history of the Majors. And on May 7, 1957, Herb Score was struck in the right eye by a line drive off the bat of the Yankees' Gil McDougald. Score was not blinded in the eye, as was feared, and he returned to action the following season. But Score, the American League Rookie of the Year in 1955, was never again the same pitcher and eventually settled into a long career as the voice of the Indians' radio broadcasts. Huff's situation turned out to be less dire, and that was certainly a relief to all those who held their breath when he hit the ground, especially Rodriguez. Said A-Rod in that statement: "I'm so thankful he's going to be OK."
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.