Veteran soccer player Justin Upton’s appearance for the Seattle Mariners came to an abrupt end Friday night when he was hit in the helmet by a field pitch.
Upton, who was called up by Class AAA Tacoma (Washington) earlier in the day and was starting on the left field in his first season, was facing Los Angeles Angels pitcher Michael Lorenzen in the fifth inning when he hit a 90.6-mph pitch.
He came down but eventually managed to walk off the field after manager Scott Service and coach checked him out.
After the game, Service said Upton looked fine. He was hoping Upton would play at the Mariners’ head on Saturday.
“He was sober and talking all the time,” Service said. “I picked him up after we went in after the match, I’ll text and check in with him tomorrow morning. Now, we’ll see if he can be DH tomorrow. Wait and see how it works.”
Dylan Moore came in as the pinch runner.
After the game, Lorenzen blamed the accident at the feet of Major League Baseball.
“I don’t know what Major League Baseball plays with these balls, but that totally got out of my hands,” Lorenzen said. via Jeff Fletcher from SoCal News Group. “He’s just a crazy guy. As a kid you think MLB is the greatest thing ever, and you get here and realize, what are they doing? All of a sudden they’re going to change baseballs…
“These baseballs are slick. I injured someone. That’s for sure in Major League Baseball. I don’t know what’s going on. Those baseballs just came right out of the package.”
Upton, a four-time All-Star and first overall pick for the 2005 draft, was released by the Angels on April 8 and signed a one-year deal with the Mariners on May 21.
He was hitting 200 minors at the time of his summons.
Upton, who was starting his 16th season in Major League Soccer on Friday, had averaged .215, .204 and .211 in his last three seasons with the Angels. He is a career .262 hitter with 324 pips and 1,000 RBI.
He stopped playing and hit his first two hits with the sailors.
Contributing: Associated Press
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