It seems like every season there's a two or three-week stretch where broken bats and the dangers they create for players, umpires and fans, becomes the hot topic around baseball.
It looks like we're entering that stretch right now, because just two days after Chicago Cubs pitcher Casey Coleman was struck by a shattered projectile 60 feet from home plate, umpire Jerry Layne, who was behind the plate to begin Minnesota's 5-4 win in Cincinnati on Friday night, was struck in the jaw by the broken bat of Devin Mesoraco.
Amazingly, and thankfully, Layne was able to get to his feet and walk off the field under his own power. He was immediately taken to nearby Good Samaritan Hospital for X-rays and tests for a possible concussion. That's according to Major League Baseball's director of umpires Randy Marsh, who happened to be at the Great American Ball Park when the incident happened.
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We later learned that all tests on Layne came back normal, but that he would sit out the rest of the series in Cincinnati as precaution. So the news is good, but that doesn't make the video any easier to watch or the incident any less scary.
Marsh also noted that Layne was not wearing the optional hockey goalie-style mask, which could have protected him from taking such a solid, clean shot. A shot he had absolutely no time to react to or protect himself from.
"That's one of the things that can happen," said Marsh. [...] "You get hit on the side of the head and there's nothing to protect you there. He took a good shot." [...]
"When he went down, he didn't know what hit him. He didn't know if it was the ball or bat," Marsh said.
Yeah, I think I'd make that switch to the more heavy-duty helmet and mask now, because the baseballs aren't about to get any softer, the bats aren't likely to get any safer, and the home plate umpire's position on the field will always be vulnerable.
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