Reynolds walks away after being hit in head
Slugger exits, then returns to dugout after clean bill of health
PHOENIX -- Mark Reynolds got a black eye for his birthday Tuesday night, but appeared to have no other ill effects after he was hit in the head by a pitch from Nationals right-hander Collin Balester in the sixth inning of Tuesday night's 6-1 win.
Reynolds was removed from the game. Neurological tests performed right after gave him a clean bill of health, and he returned to the dugout a few innings later.
"I don't have a headache," he said. "I've got a pretty good black eye. It makes me look better, doesn't it?"
Reynolds, who had homered two innings earlier, took two curveballs for balls before Balester uncorked a 95-mph fastball up and in that struck the slugger in the helmet.
Reynolds immediately fell to the ground, and Nationals catcher Ivan Rodriguez patted him on the chest. Assistant athletic trainer Dave Edwards and interim manager Kirk Gibson both sprinted out of the dugout to tend to Reynolds.
"I was hoping I was all right," Reynolds said of what was going through his mind as he lay at home plate. "I kind of laid there for a second and I was like, 'Today's my birthday, I know that. I'm in Phoenix.' I had all the tests done by the doctors, and I'm fine. They said if I have a headache tonight, I've got to go to the hospital, but I feel good to go, and hopefully I'm in there tomorrow."
In fact, Reynolds lobbied the training staff to let him stay in the game.
"I tried to get out of the way, and it got me, and my first instinct was to get up and run to first base," he said. "But the trainers made me stay down to make sure I was all right. I told them I was good to stay in the game. I just got lucky and it didn't get me too good."
The ball caught the side of the bill of Reynolds helmet, pushing it into his head right above his left eye. That left a cut, and the area quickly swelled.
"Mark was very fortunate," Gibson said. "That could have caught him in a really bad, bad spot; very close to doing so."
Balester seemed shaken by the incident and walked toward Reynolds while he was on the ground before being waved off by Gibson.
"I just said, 'Get back,' because I know when I used to get hit, they would come up and apologize ... there might be another time for that," Gibson said. "I'm not saying that he can't do that, but Mark was laying down. I didn't know what was going on. We were trying to make sure he was OK. I just motioned him back -- just let Mark get some air and see what's going on here."
Balester also hit Milwaukee's Rickie Weeks in the head with a pitch nine days ago.
"It's the second time I did that, but it's one of those things where you never want that to happen in your whole career," Balester said. "Obviously, it's unintentional. It's not a good situation to be in. Obviously, all you think about is his health, and hopefully he's doing all right."
Reynolds eventually hopped to his feet and walked off the field under his own power. Augie Ojeda came in to pinch-run.
There did not seem to be any hard feelings on the part of Reynolds following the game.
"I guess the pitch just got away from him or whatever, and no hard feelings," Reynolds said.
Umpires issued warnings to both teams following the incident, and there were no other hit batters during the game.
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.