A horrible moment took place in Tampa just after 8 PM, as Jays starter J.A. Happ was hit in the left side of the head by a hard line drive off the bat of Desmond Jennings, and needed to be stretchered off the field. It looked and sounded about as ugly as you could imagine, and was frightening enough that the Blue Jays telecast didn’t show a replay until about ten minutes after the incident, and then did so only once.
Tropicana Field, as one could tell from the telecast, and as mentioned in the tweets of several reporters there, was eerily quiet during the scene, as paramedics rushed to Happ’s aid and helped him onto a stretcher and, after a long delay, off the field of play. The left-hander was conscious as he was taken out, but we only need to think back to Brandon McCarthy’s injury last summer to realize that the seriousness of the situation may not be so immediately evident, as the then-A’s pitcher underwent two hours of surgery to reliever cranial pressure following a similar incident– one that he was able to walk off the field under his own power from.
Hopefully the response today in Tampa was extra cautious precisely for that reason, but for the time being we don’t know. If you’re God-fearing person, this would seem to be an excellent time to employ the power of prayer. Our thoughts are with J.A. and his family, and we will continue to keep you updated on his condition as information becomes available.
8:28 PM Update
Shi Davidi tweets what, at this point, has to be considered a good sign:
A good sign: J.A. Happ was conscious en route to hospital.
— Shi Davidi (@ShiDavidi) May 8, 2013
8:40 PM Update
As noted in Brendan Kennedy’s quick reaction piece in the Toronto Star, Happ “offered a faint wave to the crowd, lifting his right hand slightly, as he left the field.”
Also, lots of talk on Twitter about the fact that the Rays runners were allowed to keep advancing while the ball was live– not, thankfully, because fans were upset about additional runs coming home, but because it appeared to impede trainers from dealing with the medical emergency, or at least confuse players who could have called them in more quickly. Every moment counts in a situation like that, and it would seem more than reasonable that MLB could figure a way to better handle it.
The protective head gear for pitchers that we’d heard so much after McCarthy’s incident, obviously, also needs to be made a greater priority. I mean, I’m as guilty as anyone when it comes to not campaigning about that stuff, but seriously… it needs to happen. Here is an example.
8:50 PM Update
Here’s a screen shot of Happ’s wave, via @CorkGaines, that I almost used at the top of this post and then decided not to. The sound of the ball striking his head, I’m told, made it particularly frightening. John Lott adds some details in a piece at the National Post, noting that the Jays training staff had to wait in foul ground for the play to stop before they could go and attend to him, and that it was clear at one point that Happ was bleeding, though “it was unclear whether the blood came from flesh wound or from inside his ear.”
Better news from a fan listening to the Rays broadcast:
— G (@GetRGoin) May 8, 2013
9:10 PM Update
Shi Davidi of Sportsnet now has a post up about the incident as well, offering few new details for the time being, but he does include a few tweets from around baseball, including the one below from Amanda McCarthy, Brandon’s wife, who knows all too well about how scary these incidents can be– as well as from Brad Ziegler, who experienced a similar incident himself.
Just got back on twitter. Thoughts go out to Happ and his family. Such a scary moment…
— Amanda McCarthy (@Mrs_McCarthy32) May 8, 2013
The good thing, of course, is that Happ is receiving outstanding medical care right now, and that both McCarthy and Ziegler are both well and pitching again.
9:15 PM Update
Looking for a bit of levity in all this? Me either, but that doesn’t mean that people sending their best wishes to the obviously fake @JAHappster Twitter account. It’s the thought that counts and all that, eh?
9:40 PM Update
All quiet on this right now, FYI.
10:15 PM Update
Doesn’t seem like we’re going to hear anything before the game ends, just to let you know. But I have no idea.
11:20 PM Update
A couple items here, via the beat reporters who are down in Florida, still awaiting any kind of word on J.A. Happ’s status:
Gregor Chisholm tweets that Happ is undergoing tests– which I’d say seems good in that it means he’s not currently in surgery or anything, right?– while Barry Davis has spoken to Brett Lawrie who offers encouraging news, not only about Happ’s on-field state, but the blood seen on the field, the source of which was unknown at the time:
Brett Lawrie says Happ was talking to the guys while he was laying on the field. Said there was a gash behind his ear. #bluejays
— Barry Davis (@SNBarryDavis) May 8, 2013
Davis notes, however, that “the players on the field didn’t see replay so only speculating where ball hit Happ. Replay shows it may have hit upper cheek.” Ugh.
11:30 PM Update
Shi Davidi gives what seems to be another positive update, via Jose Bautista– though one that has to be tempered with the knowledge of how Brandon McCarthy’s injuries progressed, I think, unfortunately (not to mention what Barry Davis noted in the above update):
Jose Bautista on Happ: “From what it sounds like so far, he’s in stable condition, he’s conscious and that’s all we know so far.” #BlueJays
— Shi Davidi (@ShiDavidi) May 8, 2013
Meanwhile, Scott MacArthur tells us that Happ is alert, and undergoing a CT scan and other tests. No word on the extent of the injuries as yet, though. Davidi adds that John Gibbons and the rest of the Jays are with us in waiting for the results of the tests.
“I just started praying,” R.A. Dickey tells John Lott of the immediate aftermath of the incident. “That’s all I knew to do.”
OK, I think I’m going to shift into a less obsessive mode of monitoring this situation, as it seems that we’re into the post-game quote portion of the evening, and that it might be a little while before we hear anything definitive about what’s going on. I’ll update when word comes, assuming we hear anything tonight, but not so much regularly until then.
I’ll leave the last word, for now, to Joe Maddon:
My thoughts and prayers tonight are with JA Happ, his family and the Blue Jays organization.
— Joe Maddon (@RaysJoeMaddon) May 8, 2013