Boston Red Sox pitcher Rick Porcello's quick reflexes helped him escape a potentially serious head injury Monday night when a line drive came flying toward him and knocked him off his feet.
During a scoreless ballgame in the second inning, Chicago Cubs' Willson Contreras got a crack at one of Porcello's pitches and sent the ball straight toward the pitcher's head. Almost instantly, Porcello covered the right side of his face with his glove and fell over, rubbing his head after he hit the ground.
But it appears the Porcello's teammates and MLB fans watching the spring training game at Sloan Park in Mesa, Ariz., were more rattled by the frightening incident than the 30-year-old himself.
Minutes after players and Red Sox managers rushed to Porcello's side, the 6-foot-5 star was seen flashing a smile as he straightened his hat and stepped back onto the mound after a brief sidebar with the umpire and his coaches.
"I'm not sure they can leave him in the game, can they?" an announcer on NBC Sports Chicago was overheard asking during the game.
"Yeah, he's good," another responds, eliciting a "wow" from his cohost.
Porcello's reaction even surprised his athletic trainer Brad Pearson and manager Alex Cora.
Pearson told The Boston Globe Tuesday that Porcello reportedly played a rare trick on they pair when they attempted to examine the injury.
“He barked like a dog and he scared the living whatever out of me. I told him now I’m going to be on TV for the rest of my career for the wrong reasons. But he’s OK," Cora told the newspaper.
The pitcher admitted the situation was "scary," noting that it's always a concern when you play that position. But he wanted to put his team at ease.
“He barked like a dog and he scared the living whatever out of me."
“I was trying to let [Pearson] and [Cora] know I was fine and being honest with them that I wasn’t feeling any symptoms or anything like that,” Porcello told The Boston Globe. “Felt like the only way I could do that was crack a joke.”
After a brief break, Porcello headed back onto the field. In total, Porcello reportedly pitched four innings Monday, though his team ultimately lost to the Cubs 3-2.