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Gardner pays price for slamming helmet

@castrovince
June 8, 2019

CLEVELAND -- Brett Gardner was glad there were no cameras in the clubhouse on Saturday to capture the ugly state of his bottom lip, which had just received six stitches to close a wound. Unfortunately for Gardner, a camera did capture the mishap that caused the split lip -- a

CLEVELAND -- Brett Gardner was glad there were no cameras in the clubhouse on Saturday to capture the ugly state of his bottom lip, which had just received six stitches to close a wound.

Unfortunately for Gardner, a camera did capture the mishap that caused the split lip -- a batting helmet comebacker that struck Gardner square in the mouth after he had frustratedly thrown it at a dugout wall. By the time the Yankees’ 8-4 loss to the Indians at Progressive Field was complete, that video was all over social media.

“I just got done telling DJ [LeMahieu] last week that he shouldn’t throw his helmet in the dugout,” Gardner said. “Obviously, I was frustrated, came in and threw my helmet, and it came back and hit me in the face.”

The moment occurred in the sixth inning, after Indians right fielder Jordan Luplow made a terrific five-star catch of Gardner’s long fly ball in front of the wall in right-center field. For Gardner, who is now 1-for-his-last-23, getting robbed on that play, which Statcast gave just a 20 percent catch probability, was another frustrating moment in a week full of them.

And then injury was added to insult.

“It is frustration building up,” Gardner said. “We gave up the lead there and then I hit a ball like that and it’s an out. I told [manager Aaron] Boone if I hadn’t done it then, I would have done it after my next at-bat.”

Gardner was referring to his eighth-inning groundout, when he hit a ball with a 96.3 mph exit velocity that went right to the second baseman, Jason Kipnis.

“He’s just got to keep plugging away with it and making sure when you do get a pitch, a good fastball to hit, you take advantage of those situations,” Boone said. “It was good to see him get some good swings off.”

Alas, Gardner’s helmet toss was an all-too-perfect strike down the middle. Gardner said he’s guilty of injuring himself in such a way before, having once bopped himself in the head with a tossed helmet that bounded back and gave him a goose egg. But getting struck in the lip Saturday, he said, didn’t hurt that much.

“Not as bad as getting the stitches put in,” he said.

Anthony Castrovince has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2004. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince.