Impact of Luis Salazar's eye injury reaches Angels dugout
When Erick Aybar, the second batter of Wednesday's Angels-Arizona game, whizzed a liner right past Diamondbacks coach Matt Williams, who was on the top step of the third base dugout, the thoughts of many at Salt River Fields went immediately to Luis Salazar, the Atlanta Braves coach who lost his left eye Wednesday after being struck by a Brian McCann foul ball in the dugout March 9.
Though several Angels were not aware of the severity of the injury to Salazar, who spent the past three years as a Dodgers minor league manager, they were definitely affected by it.
"I will be more vigilant," Angels pitcher Dan Haren said, when asked if he would be paying closer attention to games he watches from the dugout. "I might sit down on the bench more, or get behind a net. But sometimes there’s a ricochet and it’s impossible to get out of the way."
When a hard thrower such as Jordan Walden is facing a left-handed batter and the Angels are in the third base dugout, "you definitely take notice--everybody does," Haren said. "Certain dugouts are safer than others. Some, you’re farther away [from the hitter], some you’re closer. Some there’s a railing, some have a net. Everyone has had close calls. You’ve got to take notice now."
Outfielder Reggie Willits was a few feet away from Angels trainer Rick Smith in Fenway Park's third base dugout during the 2008 playoffs when Casey Kotchman fouled a hard liner that hit Smith in the chest, sending Smith to the hospital.
"It’s one pitch, that’s all you have to miss," Willits said. "It’s tough to see every single pitch. Sometimes you stop to get a drink of water, and in that split-second, you can get hit. It’s awful, man."
--Mike DiGiovanna in Scottsdale, Ariz.