Braves catcher Gerald Laird is checked out by team trainer Jeff Porter and manager Fredi Gonzalez after Laird was hit by a bat swung by Rockies left fielder Corey Dickerson in Thursday’s game. (Reuters)
DENVER — Temporarily dazed but not seriously injured, Braves catcher Gerald Laird was cleared to fly back to Atlanta with the team after things turned nasty in the eighth inning of a 10-3 series-ending loss to the Rockies.
Laird was face-down in the dirt behind home plate for a few minutes after being struck by Colorado outfielder Corey Dickerson’s bat on the backswing, two pitches after Laid was hit hard in the mask by a foul tip.
When Dickerson’s bat struck him in the right side of his jaw and facemask, the veteran catcher fell to ground. He was attended to and eventually helped off the field by Braves head trainer Jeff Porter.
“I feel alright,” Laird said after taking concussion tests with a physician at Coors Field. “The first one got me alright, then just the barrel (of the bat) kind of knocked my mask off and got me right on the side of the jaw. I just felt a little dazed when I went down, seeing some stars. I just wanted to make sure I gathered myself.
“I told Bubba (Porter) I was starting to feel alright, but they wanted to get me out of there after those two blows to the head. But right now I feel OK.”
Braves reliever David Carpenter hit Dickerson in the leg with his next pitch, and Carpenter was thrown out of the game. So was Rockies manager Walt Weiss after he came out of the dugout shouting at Carpenter. Weiss was furious because Braves pitcher Julio Teheran had also hit Josh Rutledge in the head with a pitche Wednesday.
Carpenter insisted he was only trying to throw inside to Dickerson and that the fastball cut back and hit him.
“Dickerson was kind of looking at me and I said, you just got hit, go to first base,” Carpenter said. “That’s all there is to it. Just go on to the next batter. I don’t know. I didn’t even hear what (Weiss) was saying….
“I was surprised at getting tossed out of the game. I was just preparing for the next hitter, and the next thing you know I’m getting asked to leave the field. But I guess it’s just how the game goes. You can’t let a hitter take away part of the plate. We’ve got to establish in. Didn’t do a very good job. I tried to do it and the ball cut on me.”
Dickerson and the Rockies were convinced Carpenter hit Dickerson intentionally, as misguided retaliation.
“I had two strikes on me,” Dickerson said.”He throws a slider. I hit him on my backswing. It was a complete accident. I mean, I never hit somebody on purpose on the backswing. I don’t think it was called for at all, but (Carpenter) did it…. (The pitch) was almost behind me. The guy has been in the big leagues a while. It’s pretty hard to miss that far.”
Braves third baseman Chris Johnson said Weiss shouted that the Rockies owed the Braves twice, for hitting Rutledge and Dickerson.
“He doesn’t want his guys getting hit and getting hurt,” Johnson said. “From what I understand, I talked to Carp and he (said he) was just trying to go in. It just happened to work out really, really bad for us that he hit him. It looked bad.”
An inning later, Rockies reliever Nick Masset was ejected for hitting Braves catcher Evan Gattis with a pitch in the back of the left arm with two outs. Gattis dropped his bat and trotted to first base without looking toward the mound.
“I understand why (Weiss) is upset,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “And you know what? It’s baseball. They got Gattis in the ninth inning and Gattis went down to first base. We knew that something like that could happen, and it happened. And I’m proud of the way Gattis handled the situation.”
Laird didn’t believe there to be any intent on the part of Dickerson to hit him with his backswing.
“Some guys have those long backswings,” he said. “It’s not really our job to look out for them. Just don’t get caught by them. It’s one of those pitches, it’s a slider down and in and I’m kind of close to him and I just tried to catch the ball and he swung and fouled it off and came through on his follow and just happened to hit me in the right spot. But like I said, I don’t think anything like that is intentional.”