Big League Stew

Jeremy Hellickson is OK after being hit with batting practice home run

Kevin Kaduk
Big League Stew

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(AP)

Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Jeremy Hellickson took an unexpected trip to the hospital on Wednesday afternoon after being plunked on the head by a batting practice homer at Detroit's Comerica Park.

The initial reports were a little scary. The reigning AL Rookie of the Year was taken away from the bullpen on a cart before the Rays-Tigers series finale before being ushered to a nearby hospital for an exam.

The good news, though, is that it looks like Hellickson will be just fine.  The team announced that the right-hander returned to the ballpark in time to see the Rays stage a big ninth-inning rally against Justin Verlander and the Tigers for a 4-2 victory. Manager Joe Maddon said Hellickson never lost consciousness while pitching coach Jim Hickey told Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times that the ball had hit the bill of the pitcher's cap, helping to dampen the blow.

It's always been a little surprising to me that this type of incident doesn't happen more often in batting practice, at least with the outfielders who loll around and talk with each other before the games. But it's not supposed to happen to pitchers because 1) they either have screens or scouts protecting them and 2) they don't often throw their off-day sessions when there's batting practice being held.

The Tampa Bay Times, however, reports that Comerica Park did not have any screens in place in front of the bullpen and that the decision of both teams to take BP before the early start — a rare choice for getaway day — created the perfect storm for Hellickson's incident.

Wrong place, wrong time.

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