MILWAUKEE (AP) - Brewers utility man Erick Almonte said he’s dizzy and has a large red welt above his left eye, the only tangible signs of his concussion.
Almonte became the first major leaguer placed on the new seven-day disabled list for such injuries after being hit in the forehead by a ball thrown by third baseman Craig Counsell during batting practice Tuesday night.
“I know I was taking the ball from Counsell and the next thing I remember, I was on the ground,” said Almonte, who was still dizzy. “I just took my eyes off the ball for a couple of seconds and boom, it hit me right in the forehead.”
The Brewers changed plans and activated All-Star right fielder Corey Hart immediately instead of waiting until Wednesday after he missed the first three weeks of the season with an oblique strain _ and Milwaukee went on to beat Cincinnati 3-2.
Almonte was standing at first looking away when a throw from the left side of the infield struck him.
Carlos Gomez was speaking to Almonte just before he was hit by the ball and as Almonte spun toward Gomez, he was hit just above the left eye.
“I don’t remember,” said Almonte, who is 3 of 29 with one homer and three RBIs in 16 games this year. “What he was saying, I don’t remember. It happened really quick.”
Almonte took a few steps, then crumbled on the grass down the right field line when a trainer reached him. Teammates and manager Ron Roenicke gathered around him for several minutes before resuming infield drills. Almonte got to his feet and walked gingerly to the clubhouse with his eyes down and a welt forming on his forehead.
Almonte is the first player to be placed on the new DL, according to STATS LLC.
“There’s balls flying around all over the place. That’s why we try to have a pattern as to how we do things,” Roenicke said. “I know that stuff can happen. It just takes one guy turning his head one time and unfortunately, Counsell’s accuracy was really good.”
Brewers assistant general manager Gord Ash said a doctor’s evaluation determined quickly that Almonte had sustained a Grade 1 concussion and that research shows similar head injuries generally take five to seven days for symptoms to clear.
“We don’t have go short and he doesn’t feel like he’s obligated to play,” said Ash, who lauded the new option for concussions. “(We) can take care of his health to make sure he’s 100 percent.”
MLB and the players’ union announced a new set of protocols on March 29 to deal with the head injuries, including the creation of the new seven-day disabled list to give team doctors and injured players more flexibility to address concussions.
Concussions have been a priority across professional sports leagues with the NFL imposing heavy fines and threatening suspensions for hits that were deemed illegal or dangerous last season, and NHL officials recommended tighter enforcement of boarding and charging penalties in an effort to reduce concussions. The NBA plans to look into establishing league-wide protocols this offseason.
MLB requires baseline testing for all players and umpires and imposed new steps for evaluating players who may have suffered the injury and for having them return to action.
The seven-day disabled list is in addition to the 15- and 60-day DLs that already exist. Any player needing more than 14 days to recover is automatically transferred to the 15-day disabled list.
Milwaukee is also sending right-hander Takashi Saito (left hamstring) and outfielder Nyjer Morgan (right thigh bruise) to Triple-A Nashville later this week to begin rehab assignments. Right-hander Zack Greinke also will make his third rehab start on Friday in Nashville.
X-rays on the left thumb of third baseman Casey McGehee were negative and he was out of the lineup Tuesday night with a sprain. He collided with Reds first baseman Joey Votto on Monday night.
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