PHOENIX – If you missed the collision last night between the largest guy on the team (Jason Heyward) and the smallest (Nate McLouth), it was nasty.
But as everyone involved pointed out, it could have been a whole lot worse.
Since we don’t have much time to write before this early game begins in 25 minutes, I’m going to keep it real brief and give you the essentials. The recap of the game and the eighth-inning collision that resulted in a two-run, inside-the-park homer for Gerarado Parra is all in the game story I wrote late last night, at this link.
Heyward is back in the lineup today, sore but not injured apparently. For some reason he was real vague about any pain he had from the collision, to the extent that he wouldn’t even say if it was his leg, his shoulder or what.
He didn’t want to talk about it last night, nor today when I asked if he was feeling OK. Saw a tape/wrap sort of thing on one of his shins, but when I asked about it he said something to the effect of he didn’t know what it was from, and in a tone that said don’t ask again. So I didn’t.
I did see him with ice on a shoulder after last night’s game, but I don’t know if that was from the eighth-inning collision. He’s in the lineup today, and I guess that’s the important thing.
The plucky center fielder, McLouth, appeared to get the worst of the collision, flipping over Heyward and hitting the back of his head on the ground as he landed. He’s being tested for a possible concussion today.
“I’ve got a pretty bad headache still, stuff like that,” he said in the clubhouse just a while ago, after the rest of the Braves went out for batting practice. “Again, I’m just fortunate that it wasn’t worse.”
He watched the replay of the incident a few times on a computer in the clubhouse.
“It happened quickly,” he said. “It’s a headache, but it could have been a lot worse.”
No neck or back pain, nothing else?
“No, there’s nothing else, just a headache,” he said. “Which, after watching replay, it’s kind of weird that [there's not more problems]. Just my head.”
McLouth is out of the lineup, and for now, he’s listed as day-to-day. But I’d think if a concussion were diagnosed the Braves would have to consider DL’ing him, since he’d probably be out several days (remember when Brian McCann had a concussion a couple of years ago, he was out about a week).
“We’ll see,” manager Bobby Cox said. “Sometimes you’ve got to be pretty careful with that. We might be able to use him to pinch-hit [today]. Probably not.”
(Folks, I can pretty much guarantee you they’re not pinch-hitting him today.)
“Like he said, it could have been a lot worse,” Cox said. “There could have been some broken bones. Every once in a while, that’s going to happen on a ball that just splits them just right. Game of inches, and a game of injuries.”
Just my opinion here, but it seems like that’s the center fielder’s ball if he can get to it, a shot to the gap like that, and that if he shouts “I’ve got it, I’ve got it, I’ve got it!” all the way while racing towards it, the right fielder should back off.
But neither of them shouted anything, neither called for it, and Cox agreed with them that you don’t call it if you’re not sure you can get it. OK, I’ll agree to disagree. And besides, McLouth was going to catch it, and would’ve if not for finally catching a glimpse of Heyward at the last split-second and moving his glove a bit, causing the ball to hit off his arm above the wrist.
Anyway, seems like one of them could have yelled that he had it and at least tried to warn the other. But I also understand it’s a full-bore race to the ball and guys might not think about anything but trying to get to it. And that’s admirable, that go-for-broke attitude that both showed. They wanted it, badly. Anyway….
♣ Today’s outfield: Melkey Cabrera is in center field and utility man Omar Infante is making his second start of the season in left, with Heyward in right.
Cabrera was 5-for-9 with a triple and three RBIs in the first two games of the series, but wasn’t in the lineup for the third game Wednesday.
After getting off to almost as bad a start as McLouth, Cabrera has come around lately, hitting .345 with a .368 OBP and .473 slugging percentage in his past 19 games.
Infante, one of the best bench players in the league this season, has hit .400 (14-for-35) with five RBIs in June, including 11-for-25 during a current six-game hitting streak.
His .368 average with runners in scoring position is ninth-best among NL qualifiers, and Infante is fifth-best in those situations with two outs at .467 (7-for-15).
McLouth, meanwhile, is 0-for-15 with RISP and two outs, more at-bats without a hit in those situations than anyone in the NL except Adam Dunn (0-for-24).
The only one of the previously struggling Braves who’s not snapped out of his funk or at least shown signs of doing so, is McLouth. His .176 average is second-lowest among NL lineup regulars, and he’s last with a .122 road average and .146 average vs. lefties.
McLouth is 5-for-50 with one extra-base hit (double) and one RBI in his past 18 games.
He has the NL’s worst road batting average the second-lowest OBP (.282) in the NL and the fourth-worst OPS (.577).
♣ OK, we’re getting started, so I’m going to cut it short. Oh, one thing. Kenshin Kawakami pitched six scoreless innings (four hits) with a season-high eight strikeouts last night and left a scoreless game, to remain winless. When I told Cox this morning that the Braves scored two runs or fewer while K.K. was in nine of his 12 starts, and no runs while he was in four, Cox said, “No wonder he’s 0-8. Koufax couldn’t win with that.”
One more day in Phoenix and then we head to Minneapolis, home of the mighty Husker Du. Here’s one of their classic early cuts. Give it a listen here if you’ve never heard them.
“THE GIRL WHO LIVES ON HEAVEN HILL” by Husker Du
There’s a girl who lives on Heaven Hill
I go up to her cabin still
She keeps a lantern lit for me
And a bottle up on her mantelpiece
She’s the girl who lives on Heaven Hill
She’s got a big room and it’s always a mess
Worn out shoes and a worn out dress
A worn out smile that she’ll wear some more
And a worn out welcome mat by her door
I’d trade big mountains and rooms full of gold
For just one look at the beauty of this woman’s soul
Up on Heaven Hill is where I wanna be
That girl that bottle that mattress and me