An otherwise routine spring training game between the Atlanta Braves and the St. Louis Cardinals turned scary on Wednesday when Luis Salazar was hit in the face by a hard line drive while standing on the top step of the dugout.
The Braves' first-year minor league manager immediately fell from the railing where he was standing and players in the dugout tell David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that they believed Salazar was dead. Salazar was later airlifted to a hospital in nearby Orlando and O'Brien reports via Twitter that "Salazar was unconscious for 20 or more minutes, but regained consciousness and is breathing on his own." Brain damage has also been ruled out. Phew.
Salazar, in major league camp as a coach, was standing in the Braves dugout when struck by a line drive off the bat of Braves catcher Brian McCann in the first inning of the game at Champion Stadium at ESPN Wide World of Sports.
Salazar was motionless on the dugout floor before being attended to by medics and taken by stretcher to an ambulance that came on the field. Braves players and coaches stood by as Salazar was surrounded by team trainers, medics and security guards during a 14-minute delay in the game.
Salazar, 54, was a utility man for a few different big league teams during the '80s. Hopefully he pulls through this difficult road (O'Brien reports Salazar suffered multiple facial fractures) but this incident underscores just how dangerous the areas around the dugouts — the railings, the benches, the stands — can really be. Yes, even if you're alert and into the game.
Talking Chop has more, including a picture of how far Salazar was from the batter's box before McCann's at-bat.