J.A. Happ aiming for All-Star break
"Obviously, it was in the same park and it was almost the same, except he's a righty and got hit on the right side," Happ said of the two incidents on the Rays' home field.
Five Episodes in Five Months
June 15, 2013: Rays' Alex Cobb hit on right ear by Royals' Eric Hosmer's liner, at Tampa Bay -- concussion
May 7, 2013: Blue Jays' J.A. Happ hit on left ear by Rays' Desmond Jennings' liner, at Tampa Bay -- fractured skull, ear contusions and sprained knee ligaments (continues to rehab)
Oct. 25, 2012: Tigers' Doug Fister hit on top of head by Giants' Gregor Blanco's liner, Game 2 of the World Series at San Francisco -- remained in game
Sept. 12, 2012: Astros' Mickey Storey hit in face by Cubs' Dave Sappelt's liner, at Houston -- contusions to right hand and jaw
Sept. 5, 2012: Athletics' Brandon McCarthy hit near left ear by Angels' Erick Aybar's liner, at Oakland -- life-threatening brain contusion, epidural hemorrhage and skull fracture and had brain surgery (missed rest of season, pitching this year for Diamondbacks, but suffered seizure last week related to Sept. 5 injury)
-- Willie Weinbaum
A 30-year-old left-hander, Happ was hit on the left ear May 7 by a line drive struck by Desmond Jennings and he suffered a fractured skull, contusions that required eight stitches and sprained knee ligaments. Cobb, 25, suffered a concussion when he took a shot to the right ear June 15 traveling at an estimated 102 miles an hour off the bat of Kansas City's Eric Hosmer. Both pitchers were hospitalized overnight.
Happ continues workouts at the Blue Jays' minor league complex in Dunedin, Fla., about a half-hour drive from the Trop, and says he'd love to be back with the team by the All-Star break in about a month. "I'm coming along and threw off a mound without a (knee) brace the other day and hope to do so tomorrow," he said.
"I was in a brace for several weeks and am now moving, jogging and regaining athleticism," Happ said. "I began running again three or four days ago and I'm not quite there yet as far as cutting or turning."
Happ said he's never met Cobb and is waiting to contact him until Cobb makes his first public comments since last Saturday's injury.
"Hopefully his will be a quicker process than mine, but a concussion is scary and I hope he'll be back to normal very soon and I hope for the best for him," Happ said.
Happ is on the 60-day disabled list through July 7 (he was moved from the 15-day DL last month) and Cobb is on the seven-day concussion list, but Rays manager Joe Maddon told the Tampa Bay Times this week that Cobb could be moved to the disabled list and be out of action for an extended period.
According to information compiled from MLB and other sources, Cobb was the fifth pitcher to be struck in the head by a line drive in the past five months of regular and postseason major league play -- in four of the five instances, the point of impact was below the cap line.
MLB says it is examining possibilities for providing caps with protective padding but isn't considering broader head protection. Happ said, "It's hard to comprehend something that would be both functional and protective."
Of the two latest pitchers' head-injury episodes, he said, "Barring wearing a helmet, we wouldn't have been saved."
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