The ball struck Velez in the side of the head, causing a concussion — but nothing worse, thankfully. A CT scan came back negative and doctors could find no skull fractures.
Still, it was a frightening moment in the fourth inning for the Giants, who scored a 10-4 victory against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Saturday, but didn't find themselves in much of a celebratory mood afterward.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy said Velez was dazed, but never lost consciousness.
"We were all concerned about him," Bochy said. "He was conscious but not real responsive, early. "... You're praying at that time, but the guys did a great job keeping their focus, and it was a well-played game. We did a lot of good things today."
Burrell admitted that his mind was on his teammate, who was kept overnight at St. Joseph's Hospital, home of the Barrow Neurological Institute, in Phoenix.
"There's nothing good about it," said Burrell, who acknowledged he had trouble finishing his at-bat after his line drive struck Velez. "Ultimately, that's how you get back — by focusing on what we've been doing as a team, and get back in the moment.
"It's not exactly a contact sport, but it's a dangerous one at times."
How often do these guys spray fouls into the dugout, or the first few rows of seats, and we wonder how someone wasn't seriously hurt — or even killed — by a line drive?
Only once has a player ever been killed with a baseball during a game; Ray Chapman of the Cleveland Indians in 1920. We probably should consider ourselves lucky.
Baseball has come a long way in terms of safety; Players did not use batting helmets regularly in Chapman's day. Not until the 1950s, actually, did an entire team wear them.
MLB can do more.
• Make it impossible for a line drive to get inside a dugout. More screens, taller screens, wider screens. Screens. Not terribly expensive. And the netting behind home plate should cover more of the stands, as in NHL arenas. There's no sound argument against this.
• Continue to develop the Gazoo batting helmets. And add padding to caps, or even redesign them to be safer — especially for pitchers sakes.
Velez was hit with a very unlucky line drive. And yet, he's lucky he wasn't seriously hurt. Why not invest a little more in safety?
When owners come to players wanting tougher drug testing for the next collective bargaining agreement, the players should say OK, but let's make the game safer in other ways, too.
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Big BLS h/p: S.B. Nation
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