Humber OK after being hit by line drive

Humber OK after being hit by line drive

CHICAGO -- Philip Humber should be considered a very lucky man. The same can be said for John Danks.

And that sentence usually isn't uttered about a pair of pitchers who were hit in the head with line drives.

Danks was struck by a Stephen Drew shot with such force on a June 18 game in Arizona that the ball ricocheted to the D-backs' dugout. Remarkably, Danks stayed in that game and earned the victory.

On Thursday at U.S. Cellular Field, Humber took a Kosuke Fukudome line drive just above the right eye with one out and Carlos Santana on second in the second inning of Cleveland's 4-2 victory. Humber fell back immediately and clutched his face, but jumped up just as instantaneously to look for the baseball.

White Sox head athletic trainer Herm Schneider and manager Ozzie Guillen rushed out to check on Humber, but despite his request to stay in the game, he was removed for precautionary measures. Humber will be evaluated again on Friday, but he was alert and responsive, as proven by his holding court with the media after the game. He even joked with a few of his teammates.

"That's a God thing. There's a hand of protection around me," Humber said. "And I'm definitely thankful it wasn't a lot worse and that I'm OK.

"Of course, everyone was asking if I was OK. I told them I was good. I felt like I could still pitch and wanted to be out there. But at the same time, they got a job to do and take every precaution that there wasn't anything serious going on."

Guillen said that his first reaction was not to run to the field, but instead to grab some towels, fearing the worst when Humber was struck. While pitching in a game for the Triple-A Omaha Royals on June 10 of last year, Humber took a Luis Cruz line drive to the face and ended up getting 18 stitches to the right of his mouth.

Humber pointed out the scar left from that encounter during his postgame interview session. The 28-year-old then briefly lifted his hat to show a slightly bruised and swollen bump from Thursday's version of ball meets pitcher.

"Same thing: it could have been worse," said Humber of enduring painful comebackers in back-to-back seasons. "I'm just very thankful. I got to do some drills to get my reflexes faster, or quit getting line drives up the middle."

"It could have been an ugly night," Guillen said. "It was just one game we lost. Thank God nothing happened to this kid."

Concern for Humber came from his teammates, as well as the White Sox opponents and division rivals from Cleveland. Indians manager Manny Acta formed "a decent relationship" with the pitcher when Acta was the Mets third-base coach from 2005-06, and Humber was part of the organization. Acta called the situation "very scary" because "it happened so fast," and agreed with Guillen about the serious injury that could have occurred if the ball hit him square in the face.

Fukudome, through interpreter Hiro Aoyama, conveyed a feeling of worry, but also helplessness.

"I asked another player during the game how he was doing. I also am planning on asking someone to call them and check on him for me," Fukudome said. "I saw exactly what happened. I couldn't do anything, because it happened after I hit it. I felt bad about it."

"When I came in to check on him, he was walking around like nothing happened," White Sox leadoff hitter Juan Pierre said. "I just couldn't believe it. He survived. It's pretty amazing."

The pitch in question was a hanging curve on a 3-2 offering, and Humber was not able to get his glove up in time to protect himself. Fukudome's line shot landed in foul territory, between catcher Tyler Flowers and third baseman Omar Vizquel. Zach Stewart replaced Humber with runners on first and third and one out.

As of Thursday night, Humber still wanted to make his next start Wednesday in Anaheim. Guillen indicated discussions took place Thursday on the matter, but nothing was finalized.

Although he checked out well in the clubhouse, specific signs were given to Humber to watch for overnight. He said with a smile that his wife, Kristan, will make sure he's watched over.

Then, Humber pointed out another blessing from this situation that could have been so troublesome, giving kudos to White Sox fans.

"My wife was here, so [it was] obviously upsetting for her," said Humber, who added that he bounced up so quickly primarily to show his wife it wasn't worse than it was. "But she told me the fans were very supportive and had a lot of kind things to say to her, so I appreciate that."

"Just a lot of things going through your mind," Guillen said. "How lucky we are, and how lucky he is right now. That ball, everything hit him in the right spot, you could put it that way."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Being Ozzie Guillen, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.