Detroit Tigers pitcher hit in jaw says previous surgery helped minimize damage

Detroit Tigers pitcher Jordan Zimmermann left Wednesday night’s game against Cleveland in the first inning after being hit in the face by a line drive.

But Zimmerman claimed afterward that he avoided a broken jaw this time because of repair work done after the last time he was hit by a ball in 2007.

“My jaw wasn’t peeled in like it was the first time it happened,” Zimmerman told the Detroit Free Press. “I think I got lucky. The first time I broke it, they put a couple of plates in there and the doc told me back in college, ‘You’ll never break it again.’ So we put it to the test tonight and everything came back fine.

“I’ve got a couple of plates in there and 11 screws,” Zimmerman told the newspaper about his past surgery.

"I think I got lucky. The first time I broke it, they put a couple of plates in there and the doc told me back in college, ‘You’ll never break it again.’ So we put it to the test tonight and everything came back fine."

- Jordan Zimmermann, Detroit Tigers pitcher

Zimmerman, 31, making his third start of the 2018 season, had little time to react when Indians batter Jason Kipnis' line drive came back at him on a 2-2 pitch.

After being struck, Zimmermann was face down on the pitcher's mound for several moments until being attended to by the Tigers’ head athletic trainer, Doug Teter.

Zimmermann sat up and spoke to Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire, then walked off the field while holding a towel to his face. The Tigers said Zimmermann passed concussion protocol tests and was taken for X-rays.

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Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Jordan Zimmermann is tended to by head athletic trainer Doug Teter after getting hit by a ball off the bat of Cleveland Indians' Jason Kipnis during the first inning in a baseball game Wednesday, April 11, 2018, in Cleveland.  (Associated Press)

Detroit’s Daniel Norris was brought in to replace Zimmerman.

Meanwhile, Cleveland’s pitcher, Carlos Carrasco (3-0) pitched a three-hitter, struck out six and walked one in his first complete game this season, as the Indians defeated the Tigers 5-1.

Coincidentally, Carrasco was hit in the face by a line drive off the bat of Melky Cabrera of the Chicago White Sox in Cleveland in 2015.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.