Blue Jays pitching coach Bruce Walton did what any one of us would have done. He put his hands up to protect his face. The bat, broken during a first inning at-bat by Edwin Encarnacion, struck him across both forearms, forcing Walton to leave the game and undertake a precautionary x-ray. The final diagnosis was contusions to both forearms.
It could have been a lot worse.
The incident immediately drew the ire of Blue Jays manager John Farrell, who used the moment to take to the soap box and speak out against maple bats. Hat tip to MLB.com for the quote.
“They’re dangerous, and it’s repeatedly every night we see a bat fly through the air and hopefully no one gets injured by it,” Farrell said. “But you’d think that Major League Baseball would do something about it, because it’s to the point now that you have shrapnel flying everywhere and it’s a pointed object.
Of course, the argument of flying bat shards has been raging for a number of years. The most horrific incident occurred during a minor-league game, when former major-leaguer Rick Helling of the Nashville Sound (Triple-A, Milwaukee Brewers) was impaled in his non-throwing arm by a bat shard in May of 2005. Helling would make his next start, but it was a scary reminder of just what Farrell was getting at and has been at the heart of the crusade against maple bats.