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Hellickson OK, should make Saturday’s start in Boston

Posted Apr 12, 2012 by Roger Mooney

Updated Apr 12, 2012 at 12:31 PM

RHP Jeremy Hellickson said he knows he dodged a bullet Wednesday morning when he was struck by a batted ball on the left side of his face just above his eye while throwing a bullpen in the visiting bullpen at Comerica Park.

“I felt like that the whole day,” Hellickson said. “I know how lucky I got.”

Hellickson said he was saved by the bill of his cap, which took the brunt of the blow. He does not have a concussion and, providing he passes one more concussion test Friday, will receive the OK to pitch Saturday against the Red Sox in Boston.

“He’s doing well,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “We still have another test to go through, and if he passes that, and we anticipate that he will, he will pitch on his anticipated start. … It’s looking pretty good right now. He’s looking pretty normal, speaking pretty normal. I think he’s going to be OK.”

Hellickson said he felt fine this morning, no headaches or dizziness.

“I feel pretty normal,” he said. “There’s really nothing, not even a mark.”

Hellickson was injured while throwing his bullpen while the Tigers were taking batting practice. Former Ray Delmon Young hit the ball that sailed to the mound of the visitor’s bullpen in left-center field.

Hellickson said that wasn’t the first ball to land in the bullpen, that he heard, “Heads Up!” and ducked two or three times as baseballs landed “five or six feet behind me. There were some close calls there. I didn’t take any chances of trying to find it. I put my head down and pretty much walked right into it. I was trying to get as close to the fence as I could.”

Some parks have netting over the bullpen to protect pitchers from being struck with balls. Comerica Park does not. Neither does Fenway Park.

Tropicana Field, with the bullpens along the foul lines, does not offer netting, but a screen is placed in front of the bullpen and someone is assigned to catch any baseballs hit that way.

This is not normally an issue, though, because pitchers usually throw their between starts bullpen sessions early in the afternoon before the start of batting practice.

With the Rays and Tigers playing a day game, Hellickson was throwing when the Tigers were hitting.

When asked if stadiums should have netting, Hellickson said, “It would be nice. It might be the only time that happens the whole year, hopefully.”

When asked if he would throw another bullpen during batting practice, Hellickson said, “Probably not if there’s no net. I’m not taking another chance. That was scary.”

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