Watch your step: Dontrelle Willis sprains ankle backing up home plate

Our string of unique spring injuries continued on Saturday when hopeful Cincinnati Reds starter Dontrelle Willis was injured while backing up home plate.

The injury occurred in the fifth inning of  the Reds' split-squad doubleheader with the Chicago Cubs in Mesa, Ariz., and the culprit may have been the baseball bat that had just been used to drive in the first two earned runs scored off of Willis this spring.


Willis was backing up the plate on Bobby Scales' two-run single and may have tripped on a bat in the process. He limped back toward the pitcher's mound, and was taken out of the game before facing another batter.

Well, I guess we can't blame Dusty Baker for this Reds pitching injury.

Darren Baker, though, remains a suspect.

There was some fear initially that Willis may have sustained knee damage, but the Chicago Tribune's Paul Sullivan — who backed up the bat theory — quickly tweeted it was a right ankle sprain.

If Willis did indeed step or slip on the bat, that would be reminiscent of an injury Colorado Rockies reliever Matt Daley suffered in May 2009. Daley was also en route to backing up home plate when umpire Bill Welke kicked a bat into his path. Fortunately, Daley's injury (pictured here) looked a lot worse than it actually was, as he missed only two weeks of action.

There's no early word on how much time Willis is expected to miss. We'll have a better idea of that when he goes in for an examination Sunday morning, but any chance of him breaking camp with the Reds is likely out the window now. And that may be worse news than you think for Cincinnati with Johnny Cueto dealing with stiffness in his right forearm.

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