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J.A. Happ leaves on stretcher after taking line drive to head

May 7, 2013, 8:28 PM EDT

happ getty Getty Images

Blue Jays left-hander J.A. Happ departed the field on a stretcher after taking a Desmond Jennings line drive off the left side of his head in the second inning of his start Tuesday evening against the Rays.

Happ appeared to be conversing with paramedics as they led him off in a cart, but his neck was stabilized by a brace and he had some blood dribbling out of his left ear. He will probably be taken to a local hospital near Tropicana Field and monitored overnight. We’ll pass along any further updates.

Happ earned a spot in Toronto’s starting rotation with a big spring and signed a two-year, $8.9 million contract extension with the Jays on March 27. He was sporting a 3.98 ERA, 1.42 WHIP and 26/18 K/BB ratio in 31 2/3 innings entering Tuesday’s outing.

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UPDATE, 8:33 PM ET: Happ maintained full consciousness on the way to Bayfront Medical Center, according to Shi Davidi of Sportsnet. MLB.com has the replay of the incident:

  1. flamethrower101 - May 7, 2013 at 8:26 PM

    Saw the replay. So scary considering we’re not that far removed from Brandon McCarthy’s gruesome head injury. Hoping that there’s no serious damage, but I’m bracing for the worst.

  2. Jeremiah Graves - May 7, 2013 at 8:28 PM

    I hope he comes out of this okay. I can’t imagine anything scarier than a liner rocketing back at your face. Prayers for Happ tonight.

    • sabatimus - May 7, 2013 at 10:28 PM

      Pitcher’s worst nightmare. Damn I hope he’s ok.

  3. randygnyc - May 7, 2013 at 8:29 PM

    Hope he’s ok. Looked ugly. Lets not hear from still angry Yankees fans about Granderson.

    My prayers are with Mr Happ.

  4. jashton11 - May 7, 2013 at 8:33 PM

    I was watching the game live on TV. The ball went off his head all the way out into right field past the bullpen. Really scary stuff. I’m hoping for the best for Happ.

  5. duckthefodgers - May 7, 2013 at 8:40 PM

    The blood coming out his ear makes it seem he will be out a while. Also, I kinda get when a player walks off injured why people cheer, but why do people cheer someone whos not giving a thumbs up and is being taken out on a stretcher really seriously hurt? Almost seems insensitive to me.

    • supersnappy - May 7, 2013 at 8:42 PM

      I recall Will Carroll (of SI, formerly Baseball Prospectus) saying that the ball ricocheting a long way is often a good sign, since less energy gets transferred to the pitcher. Here’s hoping that’s the case here, and that Happ is OK

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - May 7, 2013 at 8:47 PM

        This is correct, as it’s physics. If a pitcher gets hit in the head/face, and the ball just drops to the ground, it’s a really big deal because all the force was absorbed by the pitcher’s head/face.

      • duckthefodgers - May 7, 2013 at 8:48 PM

        Im guessing because that means it deflected somewhat.

  6. cavredleg15 - May 7, 2013 at 8:41 PM

    That has to be the worst thing I’ve ever seen on a Baseball field- My dad told me about the same thing happening to Herb Score- May 7th 1957. Hope he has a quick recovery

  7. proudlycanadian - May 7, 2013 at 8:43 PM

    It looked terrible. I am sure that he will be gone for some time. Best wishes to Happ and his family.

    • proudlybostonian - May 8, 2013 at 8:48 AM

      I remember when it happened to Matt Clement ~ he was never the same afterwards.

      • proudlycanadian - May 8, 2013 at 8:51 AM

        That was a shame. Clement was a good pitcher.

  8. 13arod - May 7, 2013 at 8:44 PM

    hope he stays okay and hopefully doesn’t need emercency surgry like brandon marcarthey had

  9. dirtyharry1971 - May 7, 2013 at 8:50 PM

    feel bad the guy got hurt and i actually thought this was one of the better moves by the jays. not sure why houston gave up on him so quick after trading for him

  10. BeEtLjOoZ - May 7, 2013 at 8:55 PM

    Reblogged this on #LouisianaMultiverse.

    • drewsylvania - May 7, 2013 at 10:24 PM

      Not sure why we downthumb stuff like this when NBCSP is, itself, parroting content from elsewhere most of the time.

      • BeEtLjOoZ - May 7, 2013 at 10:39 PM

        Yeah my sites are merely aggregate type sites so I don’t see why it upsets some people. Oh well, that’s life. That’s the interwebz.

  11. randygnyc - May 7, 2013 at 8:58 PM

    Didn’t nicasio break his neck 2 years ago like this? I didn’t see/hear about blood from the ear until this comment board. I had a friend in HS die after laying down a motorcycle. Not a scratch on him, except he was bleeding from the ears (a sign of a broken neck). God I hope he’s ok.

    • natslady - May 8, 2013 at 6:06 AM

      Yes. Nicasio actually broke his neck when he fell after getting hit by Ian Desmond’s comebacker. It was hard to watch, and replayed a lot while people tried to figure out exactly what happened. Desi visited him in the hospital, etc., but I would be surprised if he doesn’t have flashbacks to this day. It’s amazing to me Nicasio was able to return to pitching after that, but he did. Hoping Happ will be ok.

  12. mungman69 - May 7, 2013 at 9:06 PM

    Boy, what a shot. Hope he will be ok. How can he go back on the mound? Scary.

  13. paperlions - May 7, 2013 at 9:15 PM

    Boy, good thing MLB is taking their sweet time thinking about approving/requiring padded hats for pitchers. No hurry guys, when ever you get around to it is fine.

    Hope Happ is okay.

    • melkipershero - May 7, 2013 at 9:22 PM

      Think of all the hits every game and how often this happens. Requiring wouldnt be right, but allowing is fine by me.

    • schlom - May 7, 2013 at 9:53 PM

      You can’t legislate risk out of inherently dangerous activities.

      • paperlions - May 7, 2013 at 10:06 PM

        The other option isn’t do nothing….is it?

        At this point, pitchers aren’t even allowed to wear protective headgear….meanwhile, 1B and 3B coaches are required to do so…despite being much farther from the batter.

      • schlom - May 7, 2013 at 10:15 PM

        That’s the only option. Pitchers, no matter how much protective gear they wear, can always be injured by a line drive back up the box. The only real way to protect them is to put a screen in front in the mound – which will be the end result if a rule is passed every time a pitcher gets injured. Sometimes you just have to accept the risks.

    • historiophiliac - May 7, 2013 at 10:14 PM

      It’s kind of like mass shootings, yes?

      • natslady - May 7, 2013 at 10:30 PM

        No.

      • historiophiliac - May 8, 2013 at 12:04 AM

        Why not? In neither case have we taken corrective action even though we know what we could do to lessen the risk. I know pitchers getting hit is accidental, but in both cases, authorities have failed to implement measures that could spare harm in the future.

    • fukpittsburgh - May 8, 2013 at 1:57 AM

      Clown comment bro. Clown comment.

      • proudlycanadian - May 8, 2013 at 6:00 AM

        Bryce Harper and Amanda McCarthy were among the first people to tweet support for Happ.

    • badintent - May 8, 2013 at 2:04 AM

      You’re 100% right !!. We have bud brain at the control dragging his butt on important player safety issues.We’ve heard a dozen times over the past decade about getting the liners in the pitcher caps.This tech is from the 30’s when Ron Chapman died. I’m sure Kelvar will improve it.

      • tuberippin - May 8, 2013 at 3:02 AM

        Ray Chapman.

  14. 13arod - May 7, 2013 at 9:26 PM

    they did do a test with the new pitching caps paperlions but the pitches said ithad too much weight on it and it would make the pitchers worse

    • paperlions - May 7, 2013 at 9:34 PM

      Yes, a test with one option….as if trying one thing per year is good enough because they are doing “something”….which is barely more than nothing.

  15. randygnyc - May 7, 2013 at 9:46 PM

    After further review, the bleeding looked like a laceration and his legs were moving initially. Jennings looked traumatized.

  16. Old Gator - May 7, 2013 at 9:51 PM

    Awful to watch. Hope he’s OK – but based on the impact, I think this story is going to get worse before it gets better.

  17. 13arod - May 7, 2013 at 9:59 PM

    first of all i feel bad for happ, and for desomond jenninigs

  18. newpairofsox - May 7, 2013 at 10:02 PM

    As I myself recently suffered a serious head injury, I wish him the best. Listen to your doctors and rest. Long road back, my friend. You’ll make it.

  19. randygnyc - May 7, 2013 at 10:43 PM

    Any of our friends up north get any news updates. His arm was moving and he was speaking as the stretcher left.

    • proudlycanadian - May 7, 2013 at 11:02 PM

      No real update other than he remained conscious and is under observation in the hospital.

      • proudlyfrenchcanadian - May 8, 2013 at 12:17 AM

        [I'm a big idiot who actually got on the internt and wished harm and/or death on a person who is actually in a life-threatening situation. I am human trash. I am literally a pile of garbage. And if I post anything like this again, Craig will ban me. And I will totally deserve it.]

      • proudlycanadian - May 8, 2013 at 5:54 AM

        Kindly cease being an Ahole. I know that you are a better person than that and do not represent the majority of Red Sox fans.

      • nbjays - May 8, 2013 at 8:39 AM

        I don’t think it’s possible for him to stop being an asshole, but maybe he could stop posting and giving Sox fans a bad name.

    • cur68 - May 7, 2013 at 11:33 PM

      It’ll take a scan to be certain he’s ok. The real risk is internal bleeding. We’ll have real news in the morning.

      • randygnyc - May 7, 2013 at 11:54 PM

        Of course the protocol is a CT scan. I’m hopeful their isn’t any brain trauma by where it hit him by the ear. After seeing replays, it looks like a padded hat wouldn’t have helped unless it was formed like a batting helmet with ear flaps. No way will pitchers voluntarily opt in to that, though, IMO.

  20. hittfamily - May 7, 2013 at 11:00 PM

    In college, I took one like that off the knee. My knee swelled up to the size of a volleyball. Thank god it wasn’t the head for me, and I hope Happ is OK. College players hit balls just as hard as MLBer’s because of the technological advances in aluminum bats. It is time to outlaw those bats in college, because the balls are hit just as hard, but the pitchers are less skilled, and life saving personnel are not on hand.

    • hittfamily - May 7, 2013 at 11:19 PM

      Also, play needs to stop immediately when this happens. It needs to just be an umpires judgement call as to where players wind up. It was an awfully lonely feeling watching Happ writhing in pain while runners were advancing and players were chasing a damn ball. When/If a player is paralyzed, blinded, or killed by this, keeping the double play in order should be the last thing on anyone’s mind.

  21. mudhead123 - May 7, 2013 at 11:28 PM

    Glad the rays lost. Sad they continued to round the bases while the entire team tends to their pitcher

    • cur68 - May 7, 2013 at 11:34 PM

      Jennings looked like he might cry. It was pretty traumatic for him, I think.

    • hittfamily - May 7, 2013 at 11:56 PM

      I saw Happ out there all alone for quite a while. I saw Arencibia remain at home. I saw Encarnacion chase after the ball. I saw no one make their way to the mound until timeout had been called.

      Jennings grabbed at his mouth the second it hit. Roberts got on 1 knee in the on deck circle, presumably to pray, as he is very religious, the second Happ was hit. Escobar signals to the catcher to get out there, the second the play is over. Jennings looked very disturbed throughout the whole thing, to the point that he went and isolated himself in the back of the dugout. Ballplayers play to win but are still human, as are the St Pete fans who gave him a 1 minute standing ovation. You can fuck off with a bullshit comment like that.

  22. randygnyc - May 7, 2013 at 11:36 PM

    Mudhead, that’s not fair. The rays just played by the rules. Perhaps they should be changed, but its been like this for a century. And more importantly, every Ray I saw on the 8 minute clip on MLB.com, they looked mortified. Jennings in particular looked traumatized. Bet he won’t sleep a wink tonight.

  23. hisgirlgotburrelled - May 7, 2013 at 11:36 PM

    Terrible thing to see. Hopefully there’s no serious injury and he recovers quickly.

  24. aceinthehole12 - May 7, 2013 at 11:47 PM

    Hope he bounces back quickly ! As a former pitcher that’s something that’s always in your mind..something you hate seeing too.

  25. scotttheskeptic - May 8, 2013 at 12:54 AM

    Phillies fan, here. Try to follow those Ruben has cast off. Talked to a family member, ED nurse in Pinellas County, and can state he is in the best facility in the area.

    • proudlyfrenchcanadian - May 8, 2013 at 1:37 AM

      Sounds like a HIPAA violation.

      • indaburg - May 8, 2013 at 5:38 AM

        Bayfront is one of our best trauma hospitals. He should be in good hands. I hope Happ is ok. We should know more today.

      • proudlycanadian - May 8, 2013 at 6:04 AM

        Why does a certain Red Sox fan bother being a jerk at this moment in time?

      • nbjays - May 8, 2013 at 8:36 AM

        PC, he’s ALWAYS a jerk, it just stands out more at a time like this.

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