All initial reports on Tampa Bay pitcher Alex Cobb were encouraging Saturday night after he was hit in the right ear by a line drive off the bat of Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer.
Rays officials reported Cobb remained conscious throughout the ordeal and was diagnosed at nearby Bayfront Medical Center as having only a mild concussion and a cut ear.
It could have been much worse.
“Obviously, it was an awful moment,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “The ball just hit him. We had no idea where the ball hit him. We just knew it was in the head.”
The injury occurred in the fifth inning of Tampa Bay’s 5-3 victory at Tropicana Field. The Rays were leading 3-2 when Hosmer, leading off the inning, lined a 2-1 fastball back through the box.
The ball struck Cobb, who immediately collapsed, before ricocheting to catcher Jose Lobaton, who threw Hosmer out at first.
“It was a really tough moment for everybody,” Lobaton said. “The good thing is when the trainer (Ron Porterfield) asked him to say something, he was talking. … He was coherent.”
Medical personnel immobilized Cobb, who was wheeled from the field on a stretcher. Royals pitcher James Shields, a former teammate, rushed from the field into the tunnel to check on his friend.
“I ran all the way over the other side as they were taking him off the field to see if he was all right,” Shields said. “My first reaction was to see if he’s OK, to see if he’s alive. You just never know.”
Shields, infielder Elliot Johnson (another former Ray) and Hosmer went to the medical center after leaving the clubhouse.
“I’m not going to lie to you,” Hosmer said, “I was not focused on the game at all (after the injury). I’m just thinking of how he’s doing.
“You just wish the ball would have gone an inch here or there or that he would have shook to another pitch. I wish he would have called a change-up. I would have probably swung through it.”
Tampa Bay pitcher David Price, who is currently on the disabled list, accompanied Cobb to the medical center along with Porterfield and team physician Michael Reilly.
“He was laughing,” Price said. “He seemed pretty normal, so that was good. It’s scary watching that happen. He’s had a very tough week.”
Cobb missed time earlier this week while on bereavement leave following the death of his grandmother. He didn’t pitch long enough Saturday to get credit for the victory.
“Honestly, he is probably the best pitcher when it comes to comebackers,” Johnson said. “You had to know that ball is just scorched. He is Greg Maddux of 1996 or whatever (in fielding his position). He’s that good.
“For him to take a ball off the head like that, it’s as scary as it gets. You saw Hos’ reaction. He didn’t even run to first.”