Marlins All-Star RF Giancarlo Stanton struck in the head by top pick Jose Fernandez during sim game, leaves to have x-rays on neck
JUPITER -- Marlins All-Star right fielder Giancarlo Stanton, struck in the back of his batting helmet on a fastball by top prospect Jose Fernandez during a simulated game Wednesday afternoon at the team's spring training complex, believes he will be fine but had x-rays performed on his neck for precautionary reasons after practice.
Those results, manager Mike Redmond said, are expected Thursday. But Redmond said he's anticipating everything will be fine.
"I wasn't dizzy or nothing. I saw a little grayness, fuzziness on the outside of my eyes but it's subsiding now," said Stanton, who had an ice pack wrapped around his neck when he spoke to reporters in the clubhouse. "It hit me first and the helmet decided to come in after the impact."
Stanton said he was struck "right in the bottom of the head, high neck area."
"I'm numb [right now] because there is ice on it," Stanton said. "But we'll see in a little bit."
Asked if he fears he may miss significant time, Stanton said: "No. Hopefully, not. But I would say no."
Stanton didn't fall to the ground when he was struck by the pitch, but staggered backward for a moment. He then gathered himself and scooped up his helmet on the way to the dugout. Moments later assistant athletic trainer Mike Kozak opted to take Stanton back to the team clubhouse via golf cart by for further evaluation. Although appearing a bit woozy, Stanton still signed autographs for a few children as he walked over to get into the cart.
Fernandez, the Marlins' first round pick of 2011, was visibly shaken after the incident.
After retiring the first three batters he faced on groundouts, Stanton stepped into the batter's box on Field 4 to face Fernandez. The first pitch Fernandez unleashed struck Stanton in the back of the head, knocking his helmet off and sending it rolling to the backstop. Redmond said Fernandez stayed in and retired the next batter he faced before leaving the field
Fernandez said it was a hard fastball that plunked Stanton.
"I know it was over 95 [miles per hour]. I know it was," Fernandez said. "It's a scary moment. When I let it go, I felt I didn't have control over it coming out of my hand. It could have gone to the other side. It went to the wrong side. I feel very bad about it.
"Normally, I've got a lot of control and I throw a lot of strikes."
Fernandez, who pointed out he hit just two batters with pitches last season in 146 innings, jogged into the clubhouse shortly after Stanton was carted off. Stanton acknowledged Fernandez apologized as soon as he walked into the clubhouse.
"Right when I came in, I talked with him," Fernandez said. "When I asked him how he's doing, he laughed. He said he is fine. I told him, 'I'm sorry. You know, nobody is trying to hit anybody. Same team and everything.' He just laughed, said, 'Bro, it's baseball. It happens.'"
Stanton obviously tried to make Fernandez feel better about the situation.
"It's happened before and it will happen another time," Stanton said. "He said 'Sorry.' [I told him] 'Don't dwell on it. We're good. Obviously you didn't mean to. No big deal.' "
Here is video of the incident.
JUPITER -- John Maine hasn't pitched in a big league game since May 20, 2010.
Starting Saturday's spring training opener against the Cardinals won't count as ending that streak, but it's a step in the direction Maine wants to go.
"I appreciate them letting me do it," Maine said Wednesday, a couple days after manager Mike Redmond told him he would get the chance to start the Marlins' first spring game. "I'm excited to pitch... we'll see where it takes us. It's going to take a couple outings to really find a groove. But I feel fine. I expect to do nothing but go out and pitch well."
Maine, 31, is trying to come back from two shoulder surgeries. His wife had to talk him out of retirement in 2011. With the fifth starter spot up for grabs in camp, Maine knows the opportunity is there to get back into a rotation. But there is plenty of competition: left-handers Brad Hand and Wade LeBlanc and right-handers Alex Sanabia, Mitch Talbot, Kevin Slowey and Tom Koehler.
As for his shoulder, Maine said he still feels occasional soreness. But after throwing live batting practice Monday he felt "no pain, nothing."
He expects to throw two innings Saturday.
STANDING THEIR GROUND
Marlins catchers on Tuesday took multiple turns squatting and catching relay throws will getting smacked by a weighted cylindrical bag on their blind side to simulate a collision at the plate.
Redmond said while the drill might not be fun it's necessary. He expects all of his catchers to stand their ground and block the plate -- regardless of what happened to the Giants' Buster Posey in 2011 when then Marlins outfielder Scott Cousins knocked him out for the rest of the season.
"I think we try to tell our catchers how to protect themselves," Redmond explained Tuesday. "I blocked the plate and never got hurt. We try to teach guys to try to avoid going down to their knees. If you're a little guy and you go down to your knees it makes you even smaller and you don't have a base. I think we try to square guys up and try to give them the tools where they can protect themselves in case they do get run over."
Veteran catcher Jeff Mathis had a few ribs busted a couple years ago in a collision at home with the Rangers' Chris Davis. But he too believes the catcher's job is to protect the plate.
"It was unfortunate what happened to Buster," Mathis said. "But it's part of baseball. I've been hit, ran into and stuff like that. But that's our job. Our job is to protect that plate and try to keep runs from crossing that plate. That's the way I feel about it."
> The Marlins agreed on 2013 contracts with nine players Wednesday morning: right-handers Arquimedes Caminero, Jose Ceda, Sam Dyson, Nathan Eovaldi, Chris Hatcher, A.J. Ramos; left-handers Brand Hand and Braulio Lara and outfielder Marcell Ozuna.