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.
On Sunday, we learned that while the Nationals would continue to pay their minor leaguers throughout the month of June, their weekly stipend would be lowered by 25 percent, from $400 to $300. In an incredible act of solidarity, Nationals reliever Sean Doolittle and his teammates put out a statement, saying they would be covering the missing $100 from the stipends.
After receiving some criticism, the Nationals reversed course, agreeing to pay their minor leaguers their full $400 weekly stipend.
Doolittle and co. have not withdrawn their generosity. On Wednesday, Doolittle released another statement, saying that he and his major league teammates would continue to offer financial assistance to Nationals minor leaguers through the non-profit organization More Than Baseball.
The full statement:
Washington Nationals players were excited to learn that our minor leaguers will continue receiving their full stipends. We are grateful that efforts have been made to restore their pay during these challenging times.
We remain committed to supporting them. Nationals players are partnering with More Than Baseball to contribute funds that will offer further assistance and financial support to any minor leaguers who were in the Nationals organization as of March 1.
We’ll continue to stand with them as we look forward to resuming our 2020 MLB season.
Kudos to Doolittle and the other Nationals continuing to offer a helping hand in a trying time. The players shouldn’t have to subsidize their employers’ labor expenses, but that is the world we live in today.