Cubs youngster Anthony Rizzo was attempting to beat out a hopper up the middle on Tuesday night at Houston’s Minute Maid Park when he made contact with the leg of Astros first baseman Brett Wallace.
Rizzo completely lost control, first jamming his knee on the first base bag and then landing hard on his head and shoulder several feet away after tumbling through the air. He stayed on the ground for several minutes before walking carefully back to the visitors dugout with trainers clutching his arms for balance.
MLB.com has video of the entire frightening scene.
The 23-year-old looked dazed and hobbled, and will presumably be sidelined for an extended period of time.
Rizzo is batting .293/.346/.464 with 12 home runs and 34 RBI in 69 games since his promotion to the majors.
UPDATE, 10:14 PM ET: According to Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times, Rizzo has some soreness in his neck and right shoulder but suffered no serious injuries. He could return on Friday.
The Angels’ bench is looking woefully thin this winter — so thin, in fact, that manager Mike Scioscia says he’s considering utilizing starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani as a pinch-hitter and pinch-runner on the days he’s not scheduled to pitch.
I’ve never had a pitcher pinch-run,” Scioscia told reporters Saturday. “There’s more bad than good that can come out of it. But Shohei is not just a pitcher. He’s a guy that has the ability to do some of the things coming off the bench, whether it’s pinch-hit or pinch-run, and we’re definitely going to tap into that if it’s necessary, because we feel we’re not putting him at risk. It’s something he’s able to do.
Granted, spring training allows for a certain amount of experimentation before managers and players decide what works best for them, so this may not be the strategy the Angels employ for the entire season. In addition to coming off the bench between starts, Ohtani is also expected to see 2-3 days at DH every week, forcing Albert Pujols to shift over to first base to accommodate the new two-way star.
Ohtani’s hitting prowess has already been well-documented — he has a lifetime .286/.358/.500 batting line from NPB and crushed a batting practice home run during his initial workouts with the team this week — but his skills on the basepaths have received less attention so far. MLB Pipeline describes the 23-year-old phenom as a “well-above average runner” whose speed has yet to manifest stolen bases: he’s nabbed just 13 bases in 17 chances over the last five years. That’s a number Scioscia hopes to see increased this season, though he doesn’t want his ace pitcher making any head-first slides on the basepaths to do so.
To be sure, it’s an unorthodox role for any young player to step into, but if anyone can pull it off, Ohtani can.