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Hit Batsmen Newsbeat

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Nitkowski: The other side of a batter getting hit in the face

There is a second side to this story though, one that is often overlooked. After the game when Fiers spoke with the media he was visibly upset about the incident. To the point of near tears, Fiers expressed his sympathy and sorrow for the unintentional pitch that struck Stanton in the face. His concerns were with Stanton and his emotions could not have been any more sincere.

For Fiers there will be a recovery process as well, one not nearly as daunting as what Stanton will likely go through, but it is a process nonetheless.

In 1998 I experienced nearly the exact same situation. Pitching for the Houston Astros at the time, a two-seam fastball got away from me while facing Craig Counsell, then a member of the Florida Marlins. After fouling off a few pitches that were away, Brad Ausmus and I decided it was time to throw a pitch middle-in. Counsell was giving me a tough at-bat with the bases loaded and I knew if I executed this two-seam fastball in, I had a good chance to induce weak contact or maybe even a strikeout.

It was raining that night, but I have never used that as an excuse. The reality was I didn’t finish the pitch, I didn’t drive it to the glove, and when I released the ball it was headed straight for Craig Counsell’s face. When a ball like that comes out of your hand you’re just hoping he gets out of the way. He didn’t. The pitch struck Craig Counsell on the side of the face, breaking his jaw.

It’s an awful feeling as a pitcher. There is no intent, you are just trying to win an at-bat, a pitch gets away and suddenly you realize you have may have just put an opponent’s career in jeopardy.

You don’t sleep well in these situations. Laying in my hotel bed that night I replayed the pitch over and over again in my mind. Was the mistake mental? Physical? What would I have done differently? Was the pitch selection wrong? You just want to go back in time and make it go away.

The next day is not much better. I called Craig at the hospital. If memory serves, his wife or girlfriend at the time answered the phone. This doesn’t get any easier. You’re quickly reminded of the effect this has not only on him, but the ones around him who love and support him and have become so invested in his career.

I spoke with Craig and relayed my apology and my concern. I couldn’t think of much else to say. When you’re in that situation, I imagined he really didn’t want to hear me drivel on about how sorry I was. He was very gracious to me on that phone call. You feel a little better, at least for the moment.

Read the whole thing.

JE (Jason) Posted: September 13, 2014 at 12:20 PM | 16 comment(s)
  Beats: beanballs, c.j. nitkowski, hit batsmen

 

 

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