ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Boston Red Sox pitcher Matt Clement was hit in the right side of the head by Carl Crawford’s line drive Tuesday night and carried from the field on a stretcher.
Clement could be seen blinking his eyes when he was placed on the stretcher, and the Red Sox said he was conscious and alert as he was taken to the Bayfront Medical Center near Tropicana Field for further evaluation.
“He had some numbness throughout the site where he got hit behind the right ear,” said Lt. Rick Feinberg of the St. Petersburg Fire-Rescue.
The hospital did not immediately comment on Clement’s condition, but Red Sox medical director Dr. Thomas Gill said a CT scan was negative.
“I have spoken with Matt and his doctors in Florida,” Gill said. “Matt himself never lost consciousness and is in good spirits. … He appears to be doing well, but will stay in the hospital for precautionary purposes and will be re-evaluated in the morning.”
After he was hit, Clement remained on the ground and barely moved for about five minutes before he was lifted onto the stretcher and immobilized with a neck brace. Replays showed the force of Crawford’s liner knocked the All-Star pitcher completely off his feet.
The ball caromed off the back of Clement’s head, just behind his right ear, into short left field for an RBI single in the third inning. Concerned teammates gathered around the fallen pitcher as medical personnel attended to him on the mound. The crowd cheered as he was carried off, but his arms remained strapped across his chest.
Chad Bradford replaced Clement with Boston leading the Tampa Bay Devil Rays 5-1, and the game resumed after an 11-minute delay. Three batters later, Aubrey Huff hit a grand slam off Bradford to tie the score. Clement was charged with three runs and four hits in 2 1/3 innings.
Five years ago, Red Sox pitcher Bryce Florie was hit in the right eye by a ball hit by Ryan Thompson of the Yankees. The line drive broke several bones in Florie’s face and left his vision impaired.
The right-hander tried to come back with Boston the next season but didn’t last long and was out of the major leagues by the end of the season. He has not been back since.
The most famous injury that was similar came in 1957, when Cleveland Indians phenom Herb Score was struck in the face by a line drive off the bat of the New York Yankees’ Gil McDougald. The blow broke several bones in the face of the 24-year-old left-hander and left him bloodied.
Score returned late in the 1958 season, but fearful of being hit by another batted ball, his pitching motion was altered, and he was never quite the same. His velocity dropped and he became prone to injury as a result of the changed motion.
Boston signed Clement to a $25.5 million, three-year contract as a free agent last off-season to help replace Pedro Martinez and Derek Lowe. Clement entered Tuesday night’s game 10-3 with a 4.30 ERA in 20 starts.
Clement was added to the A.L. All-Star team this month when Toronto ace Roy Halladay, was injured by a liner.
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