Braves utility player Charlie Culberson made a hasty exit from Saturday’s game against the Nationals after taking a pitch to the face. Although he appeared to be alert as he was carted off the field, it’s not clear how severe the damage was or how long he might be sidelined.
The incident occurred in the seventh inning. With two runners on and no outs, Culberson stepped in to pinch-hit for Mike Foltynewicz against the Nationals’ Fernando Rodney. He went to square up a bunt against the reliever when the pitch — a blazing 90.9-m.p.h. fastball — missed the bat entirely and struck him in the face, causing him to drop to the ground in pain. He covered his face with his hands until the Braves’ staff arrived to help him onto a cart, at which point he was removed from the field and replaced by pinch-hitter Adam Duvall.
Following Culberson’s removal, Braves manager Brian Snitker snipped at home plate umpire Tim Timmons — who, it appeared, had called Rodney’s pitch for a strike despite the fact that it made full contact with Culberson’s face, rather than his bat. With Snitker jawing from the dugout, first base umpire Bill Welke elected to eject the skipper.
Update: Culberson sustained a fractured cheekbone amid “multiple facial fractures,” per a team announcement on Sunday. He’ll travel to Atlanta to meet with team doctors today, at which point they’ll determine how extensive his treatment needs to be.