Tom Hanks lied in "A League of Their Own." You're darned right there's crying in baseball, and there's likely much more of it than players ever will let the public see. However, during an unguarded moment Sunday night, right-hander Ramon Ortiz of the Toronto Blue Jays couldn't help himself after leaving a game because of a strained right elbow. And, because Ortiz is 40 years old — he's the second-oldest starting pitcher in the AL after Andy Pettitte of the Yankees — any kind of elbow injury threatens his career.
With his team trailing the San Diego Padres by two runs in the bottom of the third inning, Ortiz threw a pitch to slugger Chase Headley and dropped to one knee for a moment — apparently realizing immediately something was wrong. Ortiz got to his feet, turned around, started to walk and slammed his glove to the ground with his left hand. Surrounded by teammates and, soon, Blue Jays' staff, Ortiz squatted down and started to cry. Just a brutal moment for anyone to watch, much less experience himself.
It was easy for teammate Steve Delabar to tell that something seriously was wrong. From the Toronto Star:
“I said a prayer on the spot,” Delebar said. “He threw his glove down and I’ve been through that before myself. You obviously never want to see someone go through something like that, especially Ramon, he has a good heart. Our prayers go out to him.”
Jays manager John Gibbons acknowledged that Ortiz suffered an elbow injury. The organization flew Ortiz to Florida where he will have an MRI and see the club’s doctors to determine the extent of the damage, and what the player’s options may be.
“It didn’t look good,” Gibbons said. “He’ll get an MRI and we’ll see from there.”
That's the origin of the anguish for Ortiz, who has logged nearly 1,500 career big-league innings with the Jays, Los Angeles Angels and six other teams since 1999. Ortiz has a 6.04 ERA in seven appearances for Toronto this season, pitching in the majors for the first time since 2011. His greatest success came with the Angels, logging back-to-back 200-plus inning seasons in 2001-02. Ortiz also started and won Game 3 of the World Series in '02, which the Angels won against the Giants in seven games.
[Editor's note: An earlier version of this post incorrectly identified Ortiz as the second-oldest pitcher in the AL.]
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