DENVER — Rockies pitcher Juan Nicasio was said to be resting comfortably while undergoing a battery of tests at a local hospital Friday night after the 24-year-old was struck in the right side of his head with a line drive in the second inning of the Nationals 5-3 victory.
It was an absolutely terrible scene on the mound at Coors Field when Ian Desmond’s line drive struck Nicasio’s right temple and the right-hander tumbled to the right side of the mound almost immediately. There he lay, flat on his back, for the next several minutes as he was attended to by the medical staff and a stretcher was prepared to take him to the hospital. Nicasio suffered a neck injury when he fell to the mound and his condition remained grave into the night.
“It’s hard to see another ballplayer get hurt,” Desmond said. “We’re all like brothers out there. It’s just unfortunate. I said my prayer for him as soon as it happened. He’s in God’s hands now. Hopefully he’s OK.”
Desmond checked with the Nationals’ trainers frequently to see if they’d gotten an update on Nicasio’s condition. Told he was resting comfortably, Desmond’s mind eased a little. It was difficult to process the details of the game after such a graphic scene but, to a man, Nationals players said that — while obviously unfortunate — an injury like that is part of the game. They need look no further than John Lannan, who walked off the field under his own willpower just four weeks ago after taking a line drive off his face from Rockies’ utility man Ty Wigginton.
“It’s unfortunate,” Desmond said. “It’s a terrible thing to happen but I think we all accept that as part of the game. After it happened, I really didn’t think about it too much. I asked the trainers if he was doing OK and they said he was doing OK and they were doing some tests and he was resting. That kind of eases it a little bit. If they said he was in critical condition, things like that, then you’re probably a little more worried. But it’s part of the game. It’s unfortunate that it ended in injury but you’ve just got to erase it from your memory as soon as you can.”
While players from both teams gathered around the railings of the dugouts, Desmond jogged back over to the Nationals dugout and waited there, instead of on first base where his infield hit had placed him.
“You want to go out there but you’ve got to realize it’s part of the game,” Desmond said. “He’s with his teammates, his manager, trainers, me being right there isn’t going to do any good. Just try to stay away a little and just, pray.”
Closer Drew Storen agreed, noting that while ugly, there’s nothing anyone on the field can do to prevent what happened.
“It’s just an unfortunate thing and it’s part of the game,” Storen said. “There’s not really anything you can do about that. You can’t control it and if you sit there and think about it you’re going to be in trouble anyway. It’s really sad to see that and I really hope he recovers.”
Nationals starter Jordan Zimmermann, who had his jaw broken by a line drive in college while throwing live batting practice, felt empathy for Nicasio, knowing what he himself had gone through. Zimmermann missed roughly a month, he said, but did come back to pitch with his jaw semi-wired shut — wearing braces with rubber bands reaching from his top teeth to his bottom to prevent him from too much movement.
“It’s definitely scary,” he said. “It’s tough. It’s the game of baseball and freaky things like that happen so I hope he’s going to be all right. Just waiting for the news. You never want anyone to get injured, no matter whose team they’re on. Hopefully he’s all right.”