San Francisco Giants first base coach Roberto Kelly is helped off the field after getting hit with a ball during batting practice Saturday in preparation for Game 1 of the National League Championship Series today.
SAN FRANCISCO — San Francisco Giants first base coach Roberto Kelly was taken to a hospital Saturday after getting hit in the back of the head when Buster Posey’s ball struck him while he was standing near second base during batting practice.
Kelly walked off the field with assistance and was placed on a stretcher to leave the ballpark. The Giants said he was scheduled to undergo a CT scan and tests for a concussion, but had no further update on his condition.
The NL West champion Giants were holding a workout at AT&T Park a day before opening their NL Championship Series against the St. Louis Cardinals.
Posey said he didn’t see what happened.
“I saw him on the ground like everybody else, I didn’t see it hit him,” the Leesburg native said. “Anytime somebody gets hit in the head you’re worried for them. He seemed to be doing all right. He was cognizant and answering questions. I think any time with a head injury, it is scary because you just can’t take anything for granted with that, and you have to be really, really careful.”
The frightening moment came just more than a month after Oakland Athletics pitcher Brandon McCarthy took a line drive to the right side of his head on a ball from the Angels’ Erick Aybar on Sept. 5. McCarthy, Oakland’s opening day starter, sustained an epidural hemorrhage, brain contusion and skull fracture on the play and underwent two hours of surgery.
The 48-year-old Kelly has been the Giants’ first base coach since 2008. He played 14 seasons in the majors for eight teams and was a career .290 hitter with 124 home runs and 585 RBIs. The outfielder spent his longest stint with the New York Yankees, from 1987-92 and again to finish his career in 2000.
He also played for the Reds, Braves, Expos, Dodgers, Twins, Mariners and Rangers.
Kelly was a two-time All-Star and played in 1,337 career games.
POSEY NOT A FAN OF ALL THE POSTSEASON TRAVEL:
The San Francisco Giants had their travel schedule perfectly planned.
Until their plane in Cincinnati needed more fuel and then experienced a mechanical problem.
"Unbelievable," manager Bruce Bochy said Saturday, back to work after sleeping from 6:30 a.m. PDT until just after 9. "Everything right, last out, ready to go."
The condensed schedule this year and the wacky Game 5s in every division series sent traveling secretaries spinning to get clubs where they needed to be on short notice.
The Giants — who stayed put in Cincinnati to wait out their next opponent — were delayed more than three hours sitting on the tarmac in Ohio as their plane refueled.
Initially, the plane had enough gas to take the NL West winners to Washington, where they thought they would be playing Game 1 of the NL championship series against the Nationals on Sunday.
When the Cardinals rallied to win in the ninth, the plan changed and more fuel was needed to get back to the Bay Area. The Giants finally landed in San Francisco at 5:09 a.m.
They began watching Game 5 of the Cardinals-Nationals at their team hotel, then watched the remainder in the team plane — gathered around iPads and personal computers.
Some San Francisco players were even talking their wives on the phone to get live game updates.
"Something I learned in 2010 is the travel's not always the easiest part of the postseason," Giants catcher Buster Posey said. "You get in late, you're flying four, five hours from coast to coast. I think you learn how to make sure your body's ready to go in order to play the next day. We were in a weird position just having to stick around Cincinnati. Whoever made the call to stay and watch the end of the game, I give them credit because I was ready to hop on the plane to D.C."
The Giants barely beat the Cardinals to the West Coast. St. Louis landed shortly after 6 a.m.
Pitcher Kyle Lohse said he got a "little bit" of sleep.
"Enough," he said. "You get used to the crazy travel schedule. I got up at noon and convinced them (at the hotel) to still make me breakfast — to cook me up some eggs, so that was nice."
The Tigers had it only slightly better than San Francisco, leaving Detroit for New York to arrive at their hotel just before 1 a.m. EDT.
"I don't worry about the small stuff. That's small stuff to me," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "At this time of the year if you are playing and you are complaining, there is something wrong with you. We are still playing and we are in the final four, it is what it is."
But, the Tigers had just won Game 5 in Oakland on Thursday night. They flew home from the West Coast, landing at 8 a.m. PDT. It was a quick turnaround after that once the Yankees eliminated the wild-card Orioles.
"We were in the position where we let everybody go home, get some rest, get packed up," Detroit general manager Dave Dombrowski said. "And we said, 'We'll just watch the game and if New York wins, be ready in two hours,' and everybody was there."
Lohse wasn't feeling too awfully sorry for San Francisco.
"It was tough," he said. "I'd like to say I feel bad for them."
Anibal Sanchez is finally feeling comfortable with his new Detroit teammates, and it shows in his performance.
He'll get a chance to prove his erratic start is fully behind him when he gets the ball for the Tigers in Game 2 on Sunday in New York.
"Right now I'm really, you know, together with the team. I say that when I come here it is really tough for me because nobody knows me, especially with the teammates, how to make friends on the team," Sanchez said before Game 1. "But right now everybody's on the same page. I am really excited to be part of this team, especially the rotation, a pretty good rotation right now."
The Yankees will send Hiroki Kuroda to the mound on short rest for the first time in his major league career.
Sanchez came to Detroit with second baseman Omar Infante in a July trade with Miami for highly touted Jacob Turner and two minor leaguers. He was 4-6 with a 3.74 ERA in 12 starts for Detroit but gave up only one run in 15 1-3 innings in his final two regular-season starts. And he was the hard-luck loser in Game 3 of the division series, giving up two runs in 6 1-3 innings of a 2-0 loss to the Oakland A's.
Jim Leyland says the 28-year-old Sanchez just needed to get acclimated to his new environment before he would realize the potential he's showed at 22 with a no-hitter for Miami.
"I just think he got to know the manager, the pitching coach. He got to know his teammates. His wife was pregnant and going to have a baby, they just had a child here recently," Leyland said. "There's a lot of stress and things that go along with moving to another team, particularly a team in a pennant race with a lot of responsibility."
Kuroda, on the other hand, felt right at home in New York. The 37-year-old right-hander was 11-6 with a 2.72 ERA in 19 regular-season starts. He pitched into the ninth on Wednesday night in a Game 3 win for the Yankees on an extra day's rest.
"This is probably the shortest rest that I have ever had in my baseball career, but at this point of the season, you know, we can't really be talking about anything but to win," Kuroda said. "So I'm just going to prepare myself to win this game, like I always have been, throughout the season."
DESCALSO'S PLACE: Daniel Descalso already has made his mark on this postseason for the defending World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals.
He hit the hit a tying, two-out single that sparked the Cardinals' ninth-inning rally on the way to a 9-7 victory at Washington on Friday night that sent St. Louis back to the NL championship series to play San Francisco.
Now, the 25-year-old second baseman gets to play back home in the Bay Area, where he mostly grew up rooting for the Oakland Athletics — along with the Giants.
Descalso lives in San Francisco's hip Marina neighborhood in the offseason, some 25 minutes from where he grew up along the Peninsula in San Carlos.
He does remember the 1989 Bay Bridge World Series, which was interrupted by an earthquake before the A's swept the Giants.
"My dad tells me we were going to games and we had two season tickets at A's games and I would sit there at 2 years old and just watch the game," Descalso said Saturday at AT&T Park, a day before Game 1. "That's my earliest memories of baseball, sitting over at the Coliseum watching the A's play."
Oakland was eliminated in Game 5 of the AL division series by the Tigers on Thursday night.
Descalso, a third-round draft pick by the Cardinals in 2007 out of UC Davis, got teased plenty for his choice of teams along the way.
"When we got into middle school and stuff, the A's weren't very good, so I'd always catch a bunch of heat for being an A's fan," he said. "That was my team that I grew up going to games to watch them play. I always rooted for the Giants, I didn't root against them, but it was A's No. 1, Giants No. 2."