Saturday, Marlon Byrd was hit on the left side of his face by a 93-mph fastball from Red Sox pitcher Alfredo Aceves. The ball fractured multiple bones in the center fielder's face. Byrd has been placed on the 15-day DL, but is expected to miss more time because of the unpredictability of head injuries.
"I've got a couple fractures up here but other than that I have my vision, no brain damage," Byrd said. "It could've been worse, so no complaints."
The Cubs do have some experience with head trauma with incidents involving Sammy Sosa and, more poignantly, Adam Greenberg, whose career seems to have been cut short because of bouts with vertigo and struggling with mental blocks at the plate after taking a fastball to the back of the head.
When incidents like this happen, I am forced to think to my own coaching and playing experiences. Two kids I coached have been hit in the head while playing -- one experiencing vertigo for weeks, the other claiming to not be able to "see the ball" correctly until a full year later.
My junior year in high school I took a fastball to the face. The ball hit me over the left upper lip, knocking me out and causing seizure. Also like Byrd, outside of a small scar, I had no ill effects after the incident.
Video and a more detailed description of me getting knocked out following the jump.
An account of the video I wrote (via Deadspin):
As the next pitch came, I jabbed my left foot out and squared my bat head toward the third-base line. I remember the ball looking strange to me — like it wasn't going where it was supposed to. I realized then that it was in line with my face, but I was committed to the bunt and already moving across the plate. I tried to bring my hands in toward me to adjust the bat vertically. Too late.
I don't actually remember what happened next: the ball hitting my face, the seizure, or the ambulance ride. The medics gave me smelling salts, and I came to with my jersey cut open and plastic heart-monitor attachments pulling at my chest hair. I remember the taste of blood and my face and left shoulder throbbing with pain. I asked my dad if we had won. He said yes.