I could be imagining it, but it sure seems like we’re seeing not only more injuries this year, but also more bad hit-by-pitch situations. Ever-increasing velocity, more desire to pitch inside where batters can’t extend on that velo, and maybe more acceptable wildness in the game since you can make up for it with whiffs. Whatever the explanation, it just seems like a lot.
And it might’ve cost the game one of its brightest stars for a while. Braves outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr., performing to this point like the NL MVP, just got hit in the hand by a 97 mph fastball, and the aftermath looked bad:
Ronald Acuña Jr. immediately goes to the clubhouse after taking a pitch to the hand/wrist. pic.twitter.com/gwPjDnBDis
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) May 9, 2021
As you can see, Acuña was in tremendous pain even coming off the field.
It’s hard to imagine there wasn’t some real damage there, given the velocity and the reaction, but we’ll just hope it was a really painful bone bruise or something. You just don’t want to see a star go down like this for a while, regardless of any standings implications in the NL.
The other layer to this situation? You wonder if there was any intent:
Here are the two pitches Coonrod threw to Acuña, who was facing the Phillies reliever for the first time since homering against him on April 11. pic.twitter.com/JrQrUokUHC
— Mark Bowman (@mlbbowman) May 9, 2021
UPDATE: Jeez, this seems like the extreme best case scenario:
X-Rays on Ronald Acuña were negative and he is day-to-day with a left pinky finger contusion.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) May 9, 2021
Even if that keeps him out for a little while – I can see how it would still be an issue gripping the bat and performing at max effort until the finger feels good again – it’s far better than multiple broken bones in the hand or whatever.