Attention pitchers: Stay away from the batting cage!
So far this spring, two pitchers have incurred freak injuries in or around batting cages - a territory so uncharted for some that it might as well be a field of boobytraps.The latest victim was Milwaukee Brewers left-handed prospect Horacio Estrada, who fractured a bone in his non-throwing hand while taking a swing in BP. Brewers pitchers must bat this year with the club's move to the National League.
"They're probably going to have to put a pin in his hand," Brewers assistant general manager Fred Stanley said. "At least it wasn't his pitching hand."
Estrada, a 22-year-old Venezuelan who spent last season at Class AA El Paso, was injured on a follow-through in the batting cage on Monday. An MRI exam on Tuesday showed a small fracture.
Bob Scanlan, hoping to make the Houston Astros' pitching staff, snagged his spikes on the turf in the batting cage and fractured a bone in his left forearm trying to brace his fall. The right-hander will be sidelined 4-6 weeks.
"I heard it pop," said Scanlan, who is 6-foot-7, 215 pounds. "I've never broken anything before, so I wasn't sure it was broken. All I knew was that it hurt."
Astros general manager Gerry Hunsicker said Scanlan fractured the radius, one of two bones that make up the the forearm. Because it was his non-pitching arm, Scanlan expects to be throwing again in two weeks.
"Hopefully, I'll be better sooner rather than later," Scanlan said.
Meantime, maybe clubs should post warning signs for pitchers on the outside of the cages: Enter at your own risk.
The Florida Marlins - what's left of them - entered the White House on Tuesday to meet President Clinton.
The World Series champions were missing 12 of the 25 players who helped them beat the Cleveland Indians last October, gone in owner H. Wayne Huizenga's payroll purge.
"It may not be the precise same Marlin team that played the Indians last year that takes the field on opening day," President Clinton said. "But if the players keep the same spirit, they'll be sure to be in the hunt again when the season comes to a close."
Tony Saunders and Jeff Conine were the only former Marlins who attended the ceremony in the East Room. The big stars who were traded stayed away.
"It's not worth it to meet the president," said closer Robb Nen, at spring training with the San Francisco Giants in Scottsdale, Ariz. "If I was still with those guys, maybe. But now, I'm dedicated to this team. My goal now is to get ready for March 31."
Charles Nagy, passed over in favor of Jaret Wright as the Game 7 starter for the Indians against Florida, said in Winter Haven, Fla., that he's not bitter.
Wright, a playoff hero for the Indians at 21, pitched well in the decisive game. But the Marlins tied it in the ninth against Jose Mesa and won it in the 11th - with the game-winning hit coming against Nagy.
"It's in the past," Nagy said. "It was disappointing, but the decision was made for the best of the team. At the time it looked like a good decision. Jaret pitched a hell of a game."
Nagy, entering the final year of his contract, has made little progress with the Indians on an extension.
At Port St. Lucie, Fla., New York Mets catcher Todd Hundley said he hopes to return from reconstructive elbow surgery at midseason.