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HEIM -- Umpire Greg Gibson, forced to exit Wednesday's Indians-Angels game after getting a cleat in the face from Angels outfielder Torii Hunter in a freak play at the plate, was deemed to be just fine postgame. He got some stitches, then was taken to a hospital for precautionary X-rays, but the expectation was that he'd be OK.
Good thing Hunter decided to wear his rubber cleats.
Hunter wore metal spikes on Sunday and Monday, but he wore rubber on Tuesday, got a couple of hits and -- superstitious as he is -- decided to go with them again on Wednesday.
Had he worn the metal ones, Gibson "could've been missing an eye," Hunter said after his team's 8-4 win over the Indians -- and he was not laughing.
After the game, though, the Angels' veteran right fielder was able to speak with Gibson. The umpire did not speak with reporters.
"Everything's fine; he's in his right mind," Hunter said. "He was cracking jokes. He was cracking jokes [on the field], too. He wanted to stay in. Too much blood, though."
On first base after a hit-by-pitch to lead off the bottom of the fifth, Hunter reached third after a double by Kendrys Morales, then tried to score when Indians right fielder Shin-Soo Choo missed his cutoff man, with the ball going to third baseman Jack Hannahan, who then fired home.
Hunter tried to slide around the tag of Indians catcher Carlos Santana, sticking his left hand out to swipe home plate. Immediately after touching the plate though, his body rolled over and his left cleat hit Gibson near his left eye. Hunter then turned his attention to Gibson, who lay on the field for several seconds before coming up with blood around his eye and Angels trainer Rick Smith attending to him.
"It's a scary situation," Hunter said, "because when I kicked him I wasn't thinking I had rubber bottoms on."
Gibson eventually walked off the field under his own power, smiling at a remark made to him and appearing in replays to say, "I'm OK." He exited through the Angels' dugout, receiving a pat on the back from Albert Pujols on his way into the tunnel. Manny Gonzalez, who was umpiring first base, put on his gear and took over behind the plate. Crew chief Gerry Davis moved from second to first as they went with a three-man crew the rest of the game.
Gibson didn't want to leave, though.
"He said, 'I took Torii's blow, I want to stay in,' " Hunter recalled.
"You stay around baseball, you'll see something crazy. I felt bad for him. I was worried about him the rest of the game. But just to hear that he's OK is a good thing."
In the commotion, there was no immediate call of safe or out.
"It was a very sensitive situation for me and Mike [Scioscia] to be over there arguing about a call or asking about a call," Indians manager Manny Acta added. "[Gibson] was cut above his eye, and we were just waiting until Gerry, the crew chief, made the call."
Hunter was eventually called out, leaving the Angels' lead at 7-0.
"To get hit like that is scary," Scioscia said. "I don't think people realize how fast this game is and how fast a play like that is, when you've got cleats flying and you've got catchers trying to make tags. There's a lot of action there, and he got caught right in the middle of it."