MacArthur: Happ 'very fortunate' but not out of woods

Scott MacArthur
5/8/2013 9:37:25 PM
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ST. PETERSBURG, Florida - J.A. Happ was at Tropicana Field visiting teammates on Wednesday, a welcome sight considering the myriad alternatives after he was struck in the head by a line drive on Tuesday evening.

Happ has a fracture of the skull behind his left ear, a badly cut left ear and a right knee injury he suffered when his leg buckled as he dropped to the dirt of the pitcher's mound.

He did not, he says, suffer a concussion. But Happ will be closely monitored over the next few days.

"It looks like I may stay here," said Happ. "I don't think they want me to fly at this point right away. But I'm not sure I'm completely in the clear, but it looks, from everything – CT scans of the brain and the neck and spine and everything, skull – it looks pretty good. So I don't think there's a ton of concern. Obviously, if the symptoms change, I need to let them know, but I think they're pretty confident that things will be fine."

Brain trauma is unpredictable. Just ask Diamondbacks' pitcher Brandon McCarthy, who as a member of the Oakland A's was hit in the head by a line drive in a game last September. He got back on his feet but later was undergoing emergency surgery to evacuate an epidural hemorrhage.

Nobody at Tropicana Field, not the players, the coaches, the umpires, the 10,273 in attendance, will forget the sight of Desmond Jennings' line drive hitting Happ, the sound it made and the view of the pitcher crumpling to the ground.

Happ is thankful.

"I feel very fortunate," he said. "I would like to say too that the whole baseball community has been unbelievable with the messages I'm receiving, the things people are saying and all the prayers, I really think that helped."

The extent of Happ's knee injury isn't yet known. He was seen in a brace leaving the Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg. When Happ met with the media Wednesday afternoon he was free of the brace but clearly hobbling.

Happ will meet with a doctor, who will make a diagnosis on his knee, on Wednesday evening at Tropicana Field.

Jennings was visibly distraught as he stood on third base watching medical personnel tend to Happ. He quickly left the stadium after Tuesday's game but sought Happ out.

"I just did coming over here," said Happ of a chance to speak to Jennings. "He just wished me the best and hoped for a quick recovery. Obviously something like that is never intentional; I let him know that I knew that and I appreciated him coming over. That's a scary thing on his end, too, I'm sure. I appreciated him doing that."

Teammates repeatedly sought out Blue Jays' trainer George Poulis during Tuesday's game to get updates on Happ's status. Manager John Gibbons visited Happ, who was alert, in hospital after the game. Players, including J.P. Arencibia, managed to have text conversations with Happ.

"I was sick to my stomach for quite some time after that," said Arencibia. "Even talking with the umpire Marty (Foster,) he was like I think I need to get some water because I'm feeling sick to my stomach. The human element of it, regardless of what side you're on, you see the reaction around baseball. There's life involved in this and any time that it's questioned, or your health is questioned, it's monumental. It's tough to go on, at the end of the day, today - the next day - loss is a loss and a win is a win but the perspective definitely doesn't come close to having somebody get hurt."

Happ has been placed on the 15-day disabled list.

Right-hander Edgar Gonzalez had his contract purchased from Triple-A Buffalo.

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