As Angels infielder Zack Cozart lay facedown in the dirt at second base after diving headfirst into the knee of New York Yankees infielder D.J. LaMahieu on Monday night, he took stock of his extremities.
Cozart’s neck was stiff and his head throbbed, but he could wiggle his fingers and toes. His ears didn’t ring like they did a decade ago when was hit in the head by a ball in a Class-A game and suffered a concussion.
“I was stunned, it just kind of shocked me,” Cozart said Tuesday. “I knew I jammed my neck pretty good, but I had feeling in all my fingers and everything, so I wasn’t too worried. Luckily, I feel way better today.”
An injury that looked potentially serious was not. Cozart, who was knocked out in the 12th inning of an eventual 14-inning loss, does not have a concussion. His headache began to subside Monday night and was gone by Tuesday morning.
He was cleared by a doctor to play, and though he wasn’t in the lineup Tuesday, he was available off the bench.
“I text-messaged him [Tuesday] morning,” manager Brad Ausmus said, “and he actually gave me the thumbs-up emoji.”
While Ausmus tended to Cozart on Monday night, bench coach Josh Paul canvassed the dugout to see if any of the team’s outfielders had infield experience. The Angels were out of position players.
“He asked me if I had ever been on the dirt and I said the last time was in 2006 in instructional league,” said Peter Bourjos, who had not played an inning of infield in 14 pro seasons. “It was the last game and they moved guys around to have fun. Periodically, in St. Louis, I took a lot of ground balls, just messing around.”
That was enough for Ausmus. Bourjos borrowed Cozart’s glove and headed for second base to start the 13th inning. Two batters in, Brett Gardner laced a grounder that appeared headed for right field.
Bourjos, doing his best Roberto Alomar impersonation, dived to his left and smothered the ball, scrambled to his knees and threw out Gardner at first.
“You know, I didn't have to think about it, thank God,” Bourjos said. “I think if it was hit right at me, I would've booted it. That way, it was a reaction and I could knock it down and get it over there. I was kind of surprised. I don't know.”
Call to arms
The heavy use of the bullpen Monday forced roster moves Tuesday. Relievers Taylor Cole, who threw three innings, and Luke Bard, who threw two innings and took the loss, were optioned to triple A.
Right-hander Justin Anderson and left-hander Sam Freeman were recalled. They gave up three runs in three innings Tuesday.
Anderson was demoted to Salt Lake on April 8, one day after escaping a bases-loaded, no-outs jam in the fifth inning of a 7-2 win over Texas.
Anderson did not allow an earned run in 5-2/3 innings of his first five appearances but fell victim to a position-player crunch caused by Cozart’s left forearm bruise and the roster requirements of an upcoming series in a National League park.
“It hits you a little bit — it hits you in the stomach, in a place where you don’t want to get hit — but that’s the reality of the situation,” Anderson said. “It sucks, but you have to make the most of it and keep doing what you’re doing.”
There was a good reason for Monday night’s second-inning blooper-reel moment, when the Angels’ Kevan Smith fell to the ground after congratulating Jonathan Lucroy, who had just crossed home plate on a two-run homer, with a double-high-five.
“He stepped on my toe and all my momentum was going backwards,” Smith said. “I knew I was done because he came in hot after he hit home plate. We laughed it off. When I was down there, he was like, ‘I’m sorry, I don’t do this very much!’ ”