ST. PETERSBURG -- Eric Hosmer was clearly shaken, but he immediately was headed to the hospital to visit Tampa Bay pitcher Alex Cobb.
It was Hosmer's sizzling line drive that struck Cobb on the right side of the ear in the fifth inning of the Royals' 5-3 loss to the Rays on Saturday.
"I'm definitely going to go see him and see if he's doing all right. I know [James] Shields and [Elliot] Johnson are going over there and I'm going to hop in with them and just make sure everything is OK with him," Hosmer said. "I don't know if there's anything to say to him. I just want to go over there and show him that I care how he's doing. And me and my family are really praying that he's able to be back and everything is all right."
Preliminary reports were that Cobb sustained a mild concussion and would spend the night at Bayfront Medical Center.
It was, of course, strictly an accident, but Hosmer found it difficult to focus on the game after Cobb was carted off the field on a stretcher.
"It's scary stuff, a lot of things are racing through my mind and I just kind of shut down after that happened. It's not a fun spot to be in, it's just tough," Hosmer said.
As the game went along, Hosmer was somewhat encouraged to hear that Cobb appeared to be doing well.
"You hate doing that to somebody and I was talking to the first-base coach, [George] Hendrick, and he was giving me updates that he was doing all right. But when you see someone down and holding their head, it's not a great feeling," Hosmer said.
Hosmer hit a 2-1 fastball from Cobb. After striking Cobb in the head, the ball bounced straight back to catcher Jose Lobaton, who threw to first base for the out and then raced to his pitcher.
"Like Miggy [Tejada] and a couple guys were telling me. It's a tough spot to be in, but you've just got to try to do your best and stay focused on the game," Hosmer said. "I'm not going to lie to you. I was not focused on the game at all right there. I'm just thinking of how he's doing. It's stuff you see in baseball and you wish that the ball would've went an inch [the other way] or he would've shook and threw another pitch. I wish he would've just thrown a changeup and I would've probably swung through it. It's just a scary feeling."
Royals first-base coach Rusty Kuntz had a close view of the incident.
"You heard the first click off the bat and then the second click, and you're about 45 feet away. It's just the worst sound in the world, like a car crash," Kuntz said. "It just makes you sick to your stomach, because you know that's not going to turn out good.
"And you feel so bad, because it puts everything back in perspective. It's just a game and you want to play the game hard and play the game right, but you don't want anybody to get hurt like that."
Kuntz had heard what he called that "sickening sound" before.
"I think it was 1980, I was on-deck when Harold Baines hit Bo McLaughlin right in the face in Oakland when we were with the White Sox," Kuntz said. "I still see it, I still hear it and I still remember it to this day. It's just one of those things you wish would go away, but it just doesn't."
Shields, who had mentored Cobb while with the Rays, got a close look at his friend.
"He had a cut on his ear. It wasn't coming out of his ear, just on his ear. It was a laceration," the Royals right-hander said. "He never got knocked out, so that was a good sign. He was talking the whole time, so hopefully he's got a pretty hard head and everything goes well.
"You never want that to happen -- never. When it first happened, my first reaction was to just see if he was OK, if he was alive. You just never know. You just feel for a guy like that, especially being a pitcher. You just never know what's going to happen. I told Joe [Maddon, Rays manager] earlier that Brandon McCarthy walked off the field and everybody thought he was OK and just a concussion, and the next thing you know they were having surgery on him. But so far, so good from what I've heard so we're going to check him out."
McCarthy was the Oakland pitcher who was struck by a line drive last year.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less