Pirates' center fielder needs six stitches, but no concussion
September 8, 2008 4:00 AM
George Nikitin/Associated Press
Pirates outfielder Nate McLouth is helped off the field after diving for a double by Giants' Pablo Sandoval in the fourth inning. He needed six stitches to close the gash.
By Dejan Kovacevic Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
SAN FRANCISCO -- As if the Pirates' 11-6 loss to the San Francisco Giants, one that clinched a 16th consecutive losing season, were not painful enough, consider the plight of Nate McLouth yesterday.
Bloodied, swollen and all stitched up.
"Yeah," he said in the quiet clubhouse. "Got beat up a little bit."
The beating began in the third inning when San Francisco starter Jonathan Sanchez hit McLouth with a fastball on the right pinky finger. McLouth bent over in an animated way, cringed and appeared to hold his breath as athletic trainer Brad Henderson checked the finger and cleared him.
McLouth stole second on Sanchez's next pitch, giving him 20 steals and, coupled with his 24 home runs, making him the Pirates' first 20-20 player since Jason Bay in 2005.
"It's fine," McLouth said of the finger.
In the Giants' fourth with bases loaded, Pablo Sandoval's sinking liner into left-center prompted McLouth to go all-out for a diving try at the out. Alas, the dive was about a yard short, and the ball bounced off the grass directly into McLouth's face, knocking out the left lens of his sunglasses and drawing immediate, profuse bleeding.
"I think the ball pushed the frames back into my face," he said. "Maybe I'm kind of lucky I was wearing glasses."
He threw off the glasses because of the bleeding and, once Henderson sprinted to the outfield, a towel was applied. The crowd of 34,122, mostly silent despite their team scoring three runs on the play, gave McLouth a warm ovation as he was ushered to the dugout and left the game.
The gash required six stitches and resulted in some Frankenstein-ish swelling of the left eyebrow, but the important matter was that McLouth had no initial concussion symptoms.
"We think he's going to be fine," manager John Russell said.
The game was painful for a few others, too.
San Francisco pitchers hit four Pirates in all -- Doug Mientkiewicz on the kneecap, Steve Pearce on the leg and Brian Bixler on the bill of his helmet -- before reliever Craig Hansen hit Nate Schierholtz in the ninth. Hansen threw behind Schieholtz just before plunking him, and that was enough to draw the first warning of the afternoon from home plate umpire Angel Campos.
Tensions were heightened slightly, with Giants manager Bruce Bochy asking Campos for an explanation and each team's reserves rising to the top step of their respective dugouts. But the game ended without further incident.
Hansen, whose erratic control and velocity has called into question his health, needed a visit from Henderson later in that ninth inning after showing discomfort on the follow-through of a pitch. But Russell and Hansen described it as a twinge in the groin.