Brian Johnson hit on face with liner

Updated: August 18, 2012, 6:54 PM ET
By Chris Hatfield | Special to ESPNBoston.com

Boston Red Sox pitching prospect Brian Johnson was hit in the face by a line drive at Saturday's Futures at Fenway event and left the field on a stretcher.

Johnson suffered multiple orbital bone fractures on the left side of his face but is showing no signs of a concussion and is resting comfortably at the hospital, the Red Sox said in a statement.

Johnson, who earned the start for the Single-A Lowell Spinners in the opening game of the annual minor league doubleheader at Fenway Park, was facing Hudson Valley center fielder Joey Rickard, the Renegades' leadoff batter, when he suffered the injury.

On just the second pitch of the game, Rickard sent a line drive right back at the left-hander, who was struck on the left side of the face. Although Johnson initially attempted to finish the play, he went down to his knees holding his face and remained down for about 10 minutes before eventually leaving the field on a stretcher. Johnson was able to wave to the crowd as he was carted off to show he was conscious.

Johnson was the Red Sox's second selection (31st overall) in the first round of this year's first-year player draft. He was making his fourth start for Lowell after signing out of the University of Florida for a $1.575 million bonus June 26.

Throwing organization-imposed short outings to keep his innings down, he had allowed just two hits in 5 1/3 scoreless frames, walking one and striking out four. He had thrown four perfect innings in his previous two starts before getting the nod Saturday, an honor the organization sometimes gives to its top prospects.

This is not the first time Johnson has suffered a head injury during a game.

While pitching for the Gators in the SEC tournament on May 28, 2011, he was knocked unconscious and sustained a mild concussion when catcher Mike Zunino's throw down to second base on a steal attempt hit him in the back of the head. Johnson, who won the John Olerud Two-Way Player of the Year Award for the Gators this past season, missed three weeks with that injury.

After Saturday's game resumed, Lowell went on to lose to the Renegades, an affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays, 6-5, despite mounting a four-run rally in the bottom of the ninth. The Pawtucket Red Sox took on the Buffalo Bisons, the Triple-A affiliate of the New York Mets, in Game 2 of the doubleheader.

Chris Hatfield is a writer for Soxprospects.com. Mike Andrews and other SoxProspects.com staff members present at the game contributed to this report.

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