Reid Brignac of the Philadelphia Phillies surprisingly walked away with only a high ankle sprain after making an awkward and ugly slide into first base Thursday night.
Brignac was trying to beat out an infield single in the fifth inning and reached the bag virtually at the same moment as right-hander Shelby Miller of the St. Louis Cardinals. Both players slid feet first, with Miller beating Brignac to the base for the out. Miller had hesitated for a moment and made himself tardy in covering after first baseman Matt Adams made an impressive stop on Brignac's liner down the right-field line, along with a sound flip to the pitcher.
Brignac's left leg bent in an awkward and ugly way as it crumpled against the bag and part of Miller's body. Brignac immediately grabbed his ankle and writhed in pain for several moments. Trainers from both teams were called to the field, as Miller also was shaken up, but only in a minor way. Looking at the replay, a broken bone or ligament damage for Brignac seemed possible.
Surprisingly, Brignac later rose to his feet and walked off the field with his arm around Philly's trainer. Miller came over and gave a word of encouragement.
X-rays showed no break. Both players explained their point of view via MLB.com:
"I just kind of reacted," Brignac said. "He started to slide and I just slid too for whatever reason, just trying to get to the bag before he did. Unfortunately my ankle got caught on the bag as my body flew over."
"I don't think I would have beaten him if I didn't slide," Miller added. "I don't think I caused the play; I think he hit the bag wrong. But hopefully he's OK and is back out there tomorrow."
Miller's right, at least about not being at fault for Brignac's injury, though it's been proven that sliding into a base is a slower route than running straight through it. The same goes for Brignac: He would have gotten there faster by running through the bag. However, this kind of play poses a danger for each player no matter what. If both players run straight through, a collision is possible.
What Miller doesn't say, at least in that quote, is that he avoids a worse collision by pulling up and sliding while trying to keep out of the path of the base runner. It's kind of a catch-22. The only thing that's certain, via science: Brignac should have kept on running. He might have made it, and he probably doesn't sprain his ankle.
But still: Hooray he's not injured worse.
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