Reliever Rafael Soriano of the Seattle Mariners, who was struck above the right ear by a Vladimir Guerrero line drive in the eighth inning Tuesday night, was released Wednesday afternoon from Harborview Medical Center with a mild concussion, sending a wave of relief through Safeco Field.
“Overall, Rafael was lucky,” said Edward Khalfayan, Seattle’s team physician. “It could have been a lot worse.”
Guerrero, who lined a ball off the head of Texas pitcher Kameron Loe in September, visited Soriano in the hospital after Tuesday’s game and had a good idea then that the 26-year-old right-hander and fellow Dominican would be OK.
“He had a little headache, but he was a lot better,” Guerrero said through an interpreter. “I feel a lot better knowing he’s OK and has no fractures.”
Soriano was kept in the hospital for observation and several tests, including two CT scans and an X-ray, and was examined Wednesday by Richard Ellenbogen, Harborview’s chief of neurosurgery, and Stan Herring, medical director for Harborview’s spine center.
“His brain looks good,” Ellenbogen said. “The swelling is all outside. He has a big goose egg behind his ear, and that’s what’s most painful right now.”
The impact of ball on skull created a sickening thud that could be heard throughout Safeco Field. Soriano crumpled to the ground, where he lay for about 10 minutes before being carted off on a stretcher. He never lost consciousness.
“That scared ... me,” Angels shortstop Orlando Cabrera said. “That’s a situation you never want to be in, as a hitter or pitcher. It was one of the worst I’ve ever seen.”
Doctors plan to re-examine Soriano in 10 to 14 days, and no timetable was set for his return. Seattle Manager Mike Hargrove said he thought Soriano would pitch again this season, but he’ll probably have a significant mental hurdle to clear before returning to the mound.
“It’s something you have to put out of your mind,” Seattle reliever George Sherrill said. “You’re never going to be an effective pitcher if you’re pitching scared.”
Such incidents can be traumatic for hitters too, and Guerrero was visibly shaken after the play. But when asked before Wednesday’s game how he would feel at the plate, the Angels slugger said, “Normal.”
Guerrero singled in his first at-bat and drove a ball to the wall in left field in his second at-bat.
Cabrera, who was hit on the tip of his right index finger by a ball while trying to bunt Aug. 24, said the injury does not affect his throwing, and the shortstop remained in the lineup Wednesday night.
“I just hate the fact that it’s hurt and it doesn’t go away,” said Cabrera, who has also played the second half with a painful right thumb injury. “But there’s nothing I can do about it right now.”