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05/30/10 1:17 PM ET
Tribe conservative, but Huff may make start
Left-hander in good spirits after scary incident, feeling 'fine'
By Anthony Castrovince / MLB.com
NEW YORK -- The first sign that David Huff was going to be all right, despite getting whacked in the head by an Alex Rodriguez line drive on Saturday, came just after Indians assistant athletic trainer Rick Jameyson rushed to the mound to help him. Huff's parents, Tom and Pat, and his brother, Tim, were in attendance to watch him make his first start in Yankee Stadium, and Huff wanted to pass along word that there was nothing to worry about, no matter how awful the scene appeared. "My first concern after I went down," Huff said Sunday, "was [to tell Jameyson], 'Hey, this is my brother's number. Call him, because I know he's freaking out.'" That Huff was able to communicate proved he hadn't lost consciousness. That he was able to recite the number was evidence that he had suffered no memory loss. Later, doctors at nearby NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center would perform a CT scan on Huff's head and determine he had no damage or bleeding in the brain and no signs of a concussion. And to listen to Huff crack jokes about the whole experience Sunday morning, it was clear that while he didn't dodge A-Rod's line drive, he had certainly dodged a bullet. "To be honest," Huff said, "I feel fine." So fine, in fact, that Huff might make his next start Thursday in Detroit. That is still being determined, depending on how Huff continues to respond to evaluations every six to eight hours and how a neuropsychological test taken Sunday morning at the ballpark compares with one Huff took when completely healthy in Spring Training. "Certainly, we'll err on the conservative side," head athletic trainer Lonnie Soloff said. Regardless of whether Huff makes that start, the discoveries in the wake of the incident have been a relief to Tom, Pat and Tim and the thousands of other attendees at Yankee Stadium. And what a relief to A-Rod, who asked the Indians for Huff's cell phone number after going to the hospital after the game, only to discover Huff had already been released and made it back to the ballpark. Rodriguez called Huff while the Indians' team bus carried Huff and his family back to the team hotel in midtown Manhattan. "It was a good conversation," Huff said, without getting into specifics. "I tried to get him to laugh, because I know he was concerned." Huff's family was concerned. But better, he reasoned, for them to be in attendance and to see first-hand that he was going to be OK, rather than being back home in Huntington Beach, Calif., watching the incident on TV and fretting. David and Tim Huff played catch in the outfield at Yankee Stadium before batting practice on Friday. They scooped up some dirt to take home as a souvenir. The prospect of Huff pitching in a game on baseball's biggest stage had once seemed implausible but was soon to be a reality. The reality nearly turned tragic when A-Rod hit that hard line that bounced off Huff's head, just above the left ear, and ricocheted all the way into right field. "It could have been an inch this way or that way," Huff said, pointing near his eye and his temple, "and I wouldn't be here talking to you. I was definitely lucky." One's natural reaction, upon seeing the ball carom all the way into the outfield, was to figure that the impact of the blow to Huff's head must have been monumental. But in reality, Soloff explained how the ball's flight path could actually be deemed a positive. "A lot has to do with the angle of impact," Soloff said. "In our experience, if the ball had landed fairly close to David, it would have been an indication that his head deadened the ball. The fact that the ball traveled as far as it did after impact can potentially be a good prognostic outcome." The outcome has been bright for Huff. He was out of the hospital before Saturday's game ended. He said he slept fine and was only reminded of the incident when reaching to scratch the left side of his head. He remembered everything about the pitch -- a changeup down and away -- that A-Rod smacked for an RBI double off the head. And he was extremely thankful to the medical training staffs from both clubs, as well as the Yankees' security staff, for the quick assistance to him and his family. "It definitely hit me before I realized anything," Huff said of the liner. "If I would have saw it, I probably would have caught it. ... It was a scary experience." One Huff, thankfully, survived. And though the specifics might not have been anything near what he anticipated, he'll never forget his first start at Yankee Stadium.
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.