Braves utilityman Charlie Culberson was hit in the face by a pitch while trying to lay down a bunt in the seventh inning of the Braves’ 10-1 win in Washington on Saturday.
Culberson, pinch-hitting for Mike Foltynewicz, was trying to bunt pinch-runner Billy Hamilton over to third. He was instead hit in the face by a pitch from Fernando Rodney.
Culberson immediately hit the ground. He was checked on by team trainers and carted off the field, after he walked to the cart. The broadcast showed trainers using towels to slow Culberson’s bleeding.
“He was good when he went to the hospital,” said an emotional manager Brian Snitker, who fought off tears during the postgame interview. “He was alert, all that stuff. We just don’t know the extent of what’s going on yet. We’re praying for him, his family. That’s scary.”
The umpires ruled Culberson didn’t pull his bat back, calling the play a strike rather than hit by pitch. Snitker furiously argued before he was ejected for the 13th time in his career.
Snitker’s case: You can’t bunt the ball with the ball coming towards your face. “I’m sitting here looking at this guy pouring blood on the ground and I’m like, ‘come on.’”
Home plate umpire Tim Timmons said Nationals manager Dave Martinez requested an appeal on Culberson’s play. It was ruled a strike. Timmons said he understood Snitker’s anger, but “the rules are the rules.”
Catcher Brian McCann said the call was “ridiculous” and said his thoughts and prayers are with Culberson.
“That’s real tough. You hope for the best,” McCann said. “You can’t get out of the way, you can’t move. It’s 97 right at you. You’re defenseless. ... You can’t do anything.”
The Braves didn’t have any further update on Culberson. Snitker just said he was “aware” and they’re in wait-and-see mode.
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