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What if you were Andre Ethier right now? How would you feel? Relieved? Embarrassed (even though it was a fluke accident)? Scared? Would you be sending flowers? I know I would after hitting a line drive that could have killed a legendary Hall of Famer!
Yes, at the Los Angeles Dodgers spring training camp in Glendale, AZ a line drive ball, out of the hand of prospect Ross Stripling and off the bat of Andre Ethier, hit HOF pitcher Sandy Koufax in the head. These types of injuries are not to be taken lightly. A line drive ball does have the capacity to kill someone if hit in the right place in the head at a high speed. In 2012 Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Brandon McCarthy, then with the Oakland Athletics, was hit in the head with a line drive during a game. He was out for the rest of the season and has since been experiencing seizures. Line drives do hit people and hurt them but it is an out of the ordinary occurrence.
That is why this must have been so insane for poor Mr. Ethier. What if you were the guy who killed the great Sandy Koufax? The Dodgers would have you traded where? Siberia? Just to have hurt someone is bad enough but a 78-year old legend? My own mind is blown at the thought.
Anyway, the good news is that Mr. Koufax is alright. Koufax miraculously remained on his feet despite suffering a gash to his forehead. He was, however, immediately carted off by the team's trainers in a golf cart and was treated by medical staff. Reigning Cy Young Award winner, Clayton Kershaw, was sitting 20 feet away when Koufax was hit. He told reporters later,
"It didn't look good. I'm glad he walked off."
Such a scary moment for everyone involved but Koufax seemed to take it like the champ he is. He was later reported to be seen walking around the Dodgers clubhouse talking to some of the players. If there are any lasting side effects, as there have been with McCarthy, they remain to be seen.
Koufax is a regular at the Dodgers spring training camp and works as a special assistant to team president Mark Walter. For the past two seasons he has also worked informally as a coach for the younger pitchers.
Ethier later told the press that, of course, he was worried,
"Wouldn't you be? Not just because of who he is, but anybody who gets hit. It's scary. I've seen it happen."
Of course no player or fan ever wants to see a person hit by a line drive but in this case it did matter a little more because of who he hit. Dodgers pitching coach, Rick Honeycutt, seemed still shaken hours later saying,
"Everybody was like, 'Oh my gosh, You don't want anybody hit, but Sandy? I mean, you don't want that to happen to anybody, but especially him, he's out here to support and help us and be around. I just got a sick feeling from the sound of it."
Well, thankfully, the entire baseball world can breathe a sigh of relief that the Hall of Famer is safe and sound. I'm sure Andre Ethier is doing the exact same thing!
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