LOS ANGELES (AP)—Brad Penny had just stepped out of the shower area in the clubhouse when a replay of his 96-mph fastball crashing into umpire Kerwin Danley’s mask with a sickening thud was showing on the wide-screen TV.
Catcher Russell Martin followed Penny out of the showers and also watched again as Danley lay nearly motionless on the field before being placed into an ambulance and driven through the center-field gate.
Nothing else that occurred in the Los Angeles Dodgers’ 11-3 victory over the Colorado Rockies on Saturday night mattered at that moment—not the 10-run first inning against Mark Redman, not Matt Kemp’s first big league grand slam, not Penny’s 1,000th career strikeout.
“I felt horrible when it happened,” Penny said. “I hope he’s all right. They gave us an update that he was, so I wish him my best. He was talking when he left, so I felt pretty good about the fact that he was all right. The hospital called and said he was doing fine.”
Danley, the crew chief, was struck on Penny’s first pitch of the fourth inning, which Martin completely missed because of a botched sign.
“It sounded like he got hit with a Mike Tyson uppercut,” said Martin, who won his first Gold Glove last season. “I was just hoping he was all right. That ball hit him square in the mask. He probably got a concussion. I was just hoping that he was still breathing. I told him `I’m sorry’ a couple of times, but I don’t know if he heard me.”
Crew members Brian Runge and Greg Gibson rushed to Danley’s side at home plate, and first base ump Angel Campos hustled back into the umpires’ dressing room adjacent to the Dodgers’ dugout to put on the gear to call balls and strikes. The game was delayed 18 minutes.
“He was out for a little bit on the field, so this is all just precautionary and I’m sure he’ll be fine,” Gibson said. “I’ve had three concussions myself, so it’s a scary thing. I’m just glad that everybody responded as quick as they did.”
Dodgers trainer Stan Conte and other medical personnel accompanied Danley on the ride to Good Samaritan Hospital, where he was taken for precautionary reasons.
“He wanted up,” said Gibson, who had an escort waiting to take him to the hospital. “It was kind of funny because the Dodgers’ trainer said, `I’ve always wanted to tell an umpire what to do, and tonight I’m going to do it. You’re not going anywhere.’
“The Dodgers’ training staff was great,” Gibson added. “His mom was here, which was a concern. So I’m very grateful to them for the support—getting the ambulance and everything they did for us. They’ve just been awesome. We’re a family.”
Runge held Danley’s left hand and patted him on the chest while they waited for the ambulance, and the crowd of 50,469 applauded as Danley was placed into the vehicle. The video board in left field showed Danley being driven out the center-field gate, with the words “Our best wishes to umpire Kerwin Danley,” superimposed at the bottom of the screen.
Penny (4-2), a nine-year veteran right-hander, somehow held his emotions in check despite the circumstances. He allowed three runs and four hits over seven innings, including Garrett Atkins’ two-run homer in the first and Todd Helton’s RBI single in the sixth.
“You’ve still got to go back out there and do your job,” Penny said. “It’s part of the game, and it happens—but it probably shouldn’t. It was just a miscommunication with me and Russ. He thought it was going to be a curveball, and when I put my head down, he thought I was ready to make the next pitch.”
Redman (3-1) needed 45 pitches to get out of the first inning in his Dodger Stadium debut, as Los Angeles sent 13 men to the plate and forced the left-hander to throw 45 pitches to get the first three outs.
Kemp drove in the first run with a sacrifice fly, then Redman walked Andruw Jones with two out and the bases loaded, then gave up a broken-bat, opposite-field single to rookie Blake DeWitt on an 0-2 pitch to bring home two more. Penny lined an RBI single to center, Rafael Furcal doubled and Juan Pierre was hit on the right elbow, setting the stage for Kemp’s homer to center field on Redman’s 43rd pitch of the inning.
“Whether his command wasn’t there or he was just trying to be too fine, he kind of just painted himself in a corner where he had to throw strikes and he got in trouble,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “But the command, with the two walks, it started to slide out from him in the first. They just topped it off with the grand slam.”
Redman was charged with 10 runs, seven hits and five walks in six innings with one strikeout. He allowed only one hit after the first—Penny’s second single of the game.
Danley, a Los Angeles native, has been a big league umpire since 1998. He has worked in four Division series, the 2007 AL Championship Series and the 2007 All-Star game. … Dodgers Hall of Fame broadcaster Vin Scully received an honorary degree from Pepperdine University on Saturday. The Dodgers have drafted seven players from Pepperdine, none of whom have ever played for them. Only two of them saw action in the big leagues—SS Matt Howard (Yankees) and P Doug Simons (Mets and Montreal Expos). … Kemp was 1-for-17 with the bases loaded before his grand slam.