J.A. Happ appeared in front of the media Wednesday, speaking publicly for the first time since a line drive hit him hard on the head, causing him to leave Tuesday's game on a stretcher and spend the night hospitalized.
"I feel very fortunate," the 30-year-old Toronto Blue Jays pitcher told a room full of reporters.
Happ arrived without a bandage on his head or crutches (he also hurt his knee in the fall). Less than 24 hours later, he looked much better than anybody who watched the video of his injury would have imagined.
He did need stitches on his ear, Happ said, and he has a fracture behind his ear that won't require surgery. He's been placed on the disabled list and will probably stay behind in Tampa when the Blue Jays leave. It sounds like the bigger injury concern is his knee, not his head, as CT scans came back clear.
Happ said he remembers the pitch, even joked that he thought he "made a decent pitch." He said he met with Desmond Jennings of the Tampa Bay Rays, who hit the line drive off his head. Happ told Jennings it wasn't his fault. And, of course, Happ said he called his mother from an ambulance on the way to the hospital to tell her he was all right.
Jennings, meanwhile, also spoke publicly Wednesday for the first time since the incident. He said it was "scary" and that he wasn't aware exactly what happened to Happ as he ran the bases. He said he felt better after personally talking to Happ. From the Tampa Bay Times:
a bandage on his head and crutches supporting his weight as he walked. Happ might have left the hospital more concerned about the condition of his right knee than his head, which was struck by a line drive the night before and had the entire Major League Baseball world concerned.
"I talked to him and he seems to be doing okay, so I'll move on from here and wish him a speedy recovery,'' Jennings said. "It's something you think about not knowing the outcome. If I would have known yesterday what I know today it probably would have been a little easier. You just never know. It's always tough to see somebody like that.''
Simply having Happ up and about is a small victory, considering what happened in the second inning at Tropicana Field on Tuesday night. Watching the replay is tough to stomach, though it's possible to see where Happ's head is at (figuratively) regarding his knee.
A player told me last Happ was concerned with his knee after going down. Had brace on it as he left hospital. #bluejays
— Barry Davis (@SNBarryDavis) May 8, 2013
This kind of mimics the season the Blue Jays have been having. Every bit of good news comes with some bad. They lose Happ to a horrific-looking injury, but they come back to beat the Tampa Bay Rays for a season-high three-game winning streak. Happ leaves the hospital the next day, meaning his head injury isn't too severe (What relief!), but he does so on crutches because he injured his knee. Just strangely bittersweet, all of the way around.
Happ reportedly will speak with the media later Wednesday afternoon. We'll see what he remembers about getting hit and how he's feeling — regarding the left side of his head and his right knee.
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- Desmond Jennings