Rays Notes: Jays’ J.A. Happ OK After Line Drive

By Robbie Knopf

People talk about how it’s so dangerous to be a pitcher. It’s an unnatural motion and you can get injured at any time. But that’s nothing compared to the scary reality that J.A. Happ went through on Tuesday: a line drive to the head. Jennings drilled a line drive that hit his head right behind his left ear, and he went down, not to arise for several more minutes. Happ described what he remembers to Sportsnet.ca’s Shi Davidi.

"The call from catcher J.P. Arencibia was for a fastball down and away. J.A. Happ was down in the count 3-1 to Desmond Jennings with runners on second and third, came set from the stretch and unleashed a 91 m.p.h. two-seamer. All in all it wasn’t a terribly located pitch.The next thing the Toronto Blue Jays left-hander remembers is a loud ringing in his ear. He was down on the pitching mound. And there was pressure. He cupped his ear and blood streamed onto his hand. It took a few seconds before he realized what had happened — a line drive had struck him on the left ear.There were people around him, assistant trainer Mike Frostad tending to him with a towel, Munenori Kawasaki, Brett Lawrie, and Maicer Izturis to one side, Arencibia and John Gibbons on the other. Then came head trainer George Poulis, Tampa Bay Rays counterpart Ron Porterfield and team physician Dr. Michael Reilly. Paramedics jumped in. His right knee throbbed. How bad is this, Happ wondered.“I felt a lot of pressure on my ear, that’s why I was holding it, I looked down and saw some blood on my hand, so I wasn’t sure,” Happ recalled Wednesday afternoon of his frightening injury the night before. “Obviously with the Brandon McCarthy injury last year, this type of thing is scary, you never know. But the paramedics and our trainers did a great job, they kept me comfortable and kept me calmed down.”"

it was a scary moment for everyone involved and no one could breathe a sigh of relief until Happ waved to fans as he went off the field on a stretcher. Happ needed eight stitches to seal the fracture in his skull behind his ear, but miraculously, he will not require surgery and doesn’t even have any post-concussion symptoms. As it turned out, Happ’s worst injury was to his knee, which “twisted under his weight as he crumpled to the ground.” Further tests showed that Happ had suffered only a sprain and could be back on a big league mound within a few weeks. It was about as good of a situation as anyone could have hoped following what happened, and it’s lucky for everyone involved that Happ is fine.

The person who felt the most guilty had to be Desmond Jennings, the player who hit that ball, and Happ assuaged his tension not only by being OK but also talking to Jennings on Wednesday. Happ’s injury was a terrifying moment that made the game after lose his significance, but thankfully he emerged from the incident without serious damage and we can just focus on baseball again.