Hechavarria bruises eye during bizarre play

Rays SS day to day, takes ball off face after popup hits Trop catwalk

May 9th, 2018

ST. PETERSBURG -- Chalk up another episode to Tropicana Field's quirky lore.

had to leave Tuesday night's 1-0 loss to the Braves in the eighth inning after a bizarre play left him with a left-eye contusion. After the game, Hechavarria's eye was red and showed some swelling. The Rays shortstop said he had already iced his eye, but did not know if he would play Wednesday.

"We'll see tomorrow, how I feel tomorrow," Hechavarria said.

The Braves' led off the eighth and skied a popup into foul territory behind home plate. But the ball hit a speaker connected to the Tropicana Field catwalk, then ricocheted into fair territory.

"I saw the ball go up," Hechavarria said. "Obviously, I couldn't tell whether it was going to be fair. I thought it was going to be foul, and then it started heading my way."

Hechavarria scrambled to try and make a play, but came up just short when he dove at the last instant. The ball landed, then bounced, catching the Rays shortstop flush in the eye.

"I was 100 percent sure I was going to make the play," Hechavarria said. "I was going for it. But out of the corner of my eye I saw the first baseman [C.J. Cron] and I hesitated and that's what caused me to have to dive for it."

The ball was ruled foul.

"The home-plate umpire didn't [call the ball foul], he didn't see it, but the first-base umpire did," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "As soon as it hit, he was running and pointing up at where it hit.

"... I don't think any of the fielders knew at the time when the ball landed whether it was being called fair or foul. I don't think that was anybody's fault."

Assistant athletic trainer Mark Vinson tended to Hechavarria then escorted him to the dugout.

Joey Wendle moved from second base to shortstop and Brad Miller entered the game to take Hechavarria's spot in the order and to play second base.

During his tenure as manager of the Rays, Cash has observed many odd twists and turns of fate thanks to Tropicana Field's catwalks. But Tuesday night's ranks as one of the stranger episodes.

"For it to knock a guy out of the game, that's pretty odd," Cash said.