Head’s up — minor league pitcher’s quick reflexes prevent potentially gruesome injury

Mike Oz
Big League Stew

It's the moment pitchers fear. They've released the ball, followed through and, for a few seconds, are defenseless. What if a line drive comes screaming back at them? Best case, it smacks them in the leg. Worst case, their head.

We've already seen a few scary scenes like that this season in MLB. For instance: Alex Cobb, the Tampa Rays pitcher, was hit in the head by a liner and missed two months. He actually made his first start back from a concussion on Thursday. Minor league pitcher Daniel Norris of the Lansing Lugnuts (the Single-A affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays) almost suffered the same fate as Cobb and J.A. Happ and Brandon McCarthy.

He had tossed a pitch to the plate in Thursday's game and the ball shot right back at him, like a bullet off the bat of David Gonzalez of the West Michigan Whitecaps. It all happens so fast, but Norris' head looks like it's about to get clobbered. Until he snaps his glove in front of his face, catches the ball and falls to the ground. There's so much to see in this quick video —Gonzalez' frightened reaction and Norris' triumphant opening of his glove to reveal the ball rank high.

But easily the best part is Norris' deep breath and moment of relief as he's laying there on the ground. As a viewer, you're relieved too. This could have been so much worse.

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