Nip­pert OK, but agrees with cau­tion

Austin American-Statesman - - SPORTS -

DETROIT — Texas Rangers pitcher Dustin Nip­pert might have been the calmest per­son at Comer­ica Park af­ter he was hit in the head by a bat­ted ball on Mon­day night.

Tigers out­fielder Austin Jack­son’s line drive sent Nip­pert crum­bling to the ground and a hush fell over the sta­dium as play­ers and fans feared he had been se­ri­ously in­jured.

Nip­pert, though, knew that he was OK.

“It hap­pened so fast that I didn’t even have time to get wor­ried,” he said. “I was stunned, and then I was sur­rounded by peo­ple.”

Rangers catcher Matt Tre­anor was the first to ar­rive, fol­lowed quickly by his team­mates and the Texas train­ing staff. Nip­pert quickly sat up, and didn’t even want to leave the game.

“When they let me stand up, they started push­ing me to­ward the dugout,” he said. “I was wait­ing for them to let me throw a cou­ple pitches to see if I was OK, but they didn’t give me a chance.”

Nip­pert, who never lost con­scious­ness, was taken to a lo­cal hos­pi­tal for a pre­cau­tion­ary CT scan, but was back at the team ho­tel be­fore the Rangers won the 14-in­ning game at 11:58 p.m..

“They told me that all the tests were nor­mal — I don’t have a con­cus­sion, just some bruises and a lump,” he said. “I don’t even re­ally have a headache. The only thing is that I get dizzy when I stand up, and they said that was nor­mal and would go away in a day or two.”

De­spite Nip­pert’s rel­a­tively mild in­juries, he agreed with the team’s de­ci­sion to put him on the 15-day dis­abled list.

“This isn’t like hav­ing a sore el­bow or shoul­der — this is my brain we’re talk­ing about,” he said. “I don’t have a prob­lem with tak­ing things slowly.”

The Rangers were forced into the move be­cause they used seven pitch­ers Mon­day.

“We needed some help in the bullpen, and they told us that Dustin should prob­a­bly take four or five days off, so we de­cided to do the smart thing and be ex­tremely cau­tious with him,” Rangers man­ager Ron Washington said.

One of the hap­pi­est peo­ple with the out­come was Jack­son, who vis­ited Nip­pert in the club­house be­fore Tues­day’s game. He ended up on sec­ond af­ter the ball ric­o­cheted off Nip­pert’s head and into shal­low left field for a dou­ble.

“It is part of the game, but you never want to see that hap­pen,” Jack­son said Mon­day night. “It’s weird, be­cause you want to stop and check on him, but you have to keep run­ning.”

Nip­pert was re­placed by Dar­ren O’Day.

“That was re­ally tough, be­cause you are wor­ried about your buddy, and then you’ve got to try to get ready to pitch,” O’Day said. “I didn’t even know how he was un­til af­ter the in­ning, so I had all kinds of things go­ing through my mind. Fi­nally, af­ter the in­ning, when I got back in the dugout, they told me he was talk­ing and do­ing OK.”

Texas re­called re­liever Doug Mathis from Triple-A Ok­la­homa City to re­place Nip­pert. Mathis, who is 1-1 with a 6.98 ERA this sea­son for the Rangers, is ca­pa­ble of pitch­ing mul­ti­ple in­nings.

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