PHOENIX – Other Braves outfielders have cringed while imagining what it would feel like to collide with Jason Heyward. Nate McLouth experienced it.
The smallest Brave(McLouth) collided with the largest (McLouth) in the eighth inning Wednesday night, and the end result was a two-run, inside-the-park homer for the Diamondbacks and possible concussion for McLouth.
The center fielder still had a severe headache late Thursday afternoon, and manager Bobby Cox said the Braves might have to put McLouth on the 15-day disabled list.
“I’m going to talk to him after a while and see how he’s doing,” Cox said before the Braves headed to the Phoenix airport Wednesday afternoon for their flight to Minneapolis. “If [he's] not [doing better soon], then we’ll have to call somebody up.”
Cox said so far the diagnosis was a contusion of the head, and that it typically took three to seven days for a player to cleared to play.
McLouth took a computer-based test Thursday that’s designed to diagnose concussions by comparing a player’s answers to a baseline test each player took during spring training.
“I haven’t seen the results yet,” said McLouth, who didn’t know if the DL was necessary. “I guess it’s hard to tell because it’s not even been 24 hours yet. It’s not my choice, but maybe if I still felt this way tomorrow, then that would be a little bit different.”
Heyward took a tumble and had some aches and pains, but was back in the lineup Wednesday. McLouth spent the day in the clubhouse and training room.
“I’ve got a pretty bad headache still, stuff like that,” he said Thursday morning, before taking the test. “I’m just fortunate it wasn’t worse.”
Heyward had some unspecified soreness but finished Wednesday’s game. The 6-foot-5, 245-pound rookie was back in right field Thursday.
McLouth collided with Heyward as they sprinted to the gap chasing a fly ball by Gerardo Parra, who circled the bases while McLouth lay dazed and Heyward scrambled to retrieve the ball.
The play turned a 1-0 Braves lead into a 2-1 loss and snapped reliever Peter Moylan’s string of 123 consecutive homerless relief appearances.
McLouth was attended to before walking off the field. He was monitored overnight by Braves trainer Jeff Porter, who called his room at 4 a.m.
“I think that was a pulse check to see if I was alive,” McLouth said, smiling.
McLouth hit the back of his head on the ground after flipping over Heyward, who tried to make a sliding catch. The ball went off McLouth’s arm above the wrist.
Both players and Cox described the collision as unavoidable because the ball was hit to a spot between the two outfielders that required both to sprint full-tilt to reach it.
“The ball was placed at a perfect spot,” said Heyward, who went down momentarily, then chased after the ball. “It was one of those where you don’t really have time to look at each other, you don’t really have time to call it. And if you don’t go after it – that’s one thing you don’t want.”
McLouth said, “If it falls between you then you look like an idiot, but then if you both make the extra effort for it sometimes that’s what happens. It’s pretty much unavoidable…. It’s just impossible to communicate in that situation.”
Moylan had not allowed a home run since Ryan Zimmerman hit one at Washington on 2008 opening day, but said that was the farthest thing from his mind Tuesday.
“You forget about the situation in the game as soon as you see a collision like that,” he said. “The fact that they scored two runs – who cares? You look out there and you see Nate flipping over Heyward and you think, I hope they’re both OK. Then Nate doesn’t get up and it’s like, oh, man.”