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Culberson (facial fractures) avoids surgery

Utility man out for season after HBP; Rodney shaken by incident
@mlbbowman
September 17, 2019

WASHINGTON -- Charlie Culberson will miss the remainder of the season with multiple facial fractures. But the Braves utility man received good news on Sunday, when he learned none of the fractures were of the displaced type. “There’s no surgery required, which is really good,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said.

WASHINGTON -- Charlie Culberson will miss the remainder of the season with multiple facial fractures. But the Braves utility man received good news on Sunday, when he learned none of the fractures were of the displaced type.

“There’s no surgery required, which is really good,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “It’s probably about the best-case scenario, to be honest. All of the fractures are not displaced. It’s things that will heal. He’s just got to be careful for a while with his activity.”

The Braves officially placed Culberson on the 60-day injured list on Tuesday and selected catcher John Ryan Murphy from Triple-A Gwinnett.

There were concerns about Culberson’s long-term health when he was hit on the right cheek while attempting to bunt Fernando Rodney’s 90.9 mph fastball during the seventh inning of Saturday afternoon’s 10-1 win over the Nationals.

But any lingering concerns about potential vision impairment or facial reconstruction were erased when Culberson returned to Atlanta on Sunday to be further evaluated by members of the Braves’ medical staff.

After being carted off the field on Saturday, a bloodied Culberson was transported to a nearby hospital, where he underwent a variety of tests and evaluations. The 30-year-old veteran returned to the team hotel Saturday night and had a chance to interact with some of his teammates.

“The guys who did see him, said he looked better than what they thought he would,” Snitker said.

Culberson plans to be at SunTrust Park on Tuesday, when the Braves begin their final homestand.

“He’ll be here with us, which is a really good thing,” Snitker said. “He’ll still be a part of the team, and we’ll see him in Spring Training.”

Rodney’s remorse
As Culberson was being carted off the field, he gave a thumbs up to Rodney, acknowledging he knew there was no intent to hit him with two on and nobody out in what at the time was a 1-1 game.

A shaken Rodney exited before talking to reporters on Saturday. But the veteran reliever expressed remorse and concern when he spoke to reporters before Sunday afternoon’s series finale.

"Really, after that I said, ‘I don’t want to pitch,’” Rodney said. “I feel sorry that happened. I feel like I tried to do something I'm not supposed to do, but that's baseball. You have to continue and keep working, and you know that happened but try to recover your mind and keep going and doing your thing."

Martinez’s explanation
Nationals manager Dave Martinez has drawn a lot of heat since plate umpire Tim Timmons said the skipper requested that he appeal whether Culberson was still offering to bunt when he was hit by Rodney’s pitch.

While Martinez did not specifically reveal what transpired, he indicated there might have been more to the story.

“I had a conversation with [Timmons] and the way it sounded was not the way [it happened] -- let’s just say that,” Martinez said. “As a manager, it’s kind of my job. We’re in a 1-1 game, that’s all I’m going to say. It stinks, but it was very -- it wasn’t the way it was portrayed to be.

“There’s a fine line. … I’ll tell you right now. But they get it, and they understood it. It’s part of the game. We’re in a 1-1 game. I would think that everybody would understand that.”

When Snitker displayed one of the most impassioned tirades of his career before and after being ejected Saturday, he made it clear he was furious with first-base umpire Bill Welke’s ruling that Culberson had continued offering to bunt while attempting to avoid a pitch coming at his face.

But Snitker said he understood Martinez’s perspective.

“[Managers] don’t like doing it, but during the course of a game, that is one of the things you do ask about,” Snitker said. “As hard as it might be, it’s still within your right to do it. I guarantee he hated it as much as anybody when he saw Charlie like that. But I guess it’s your responsibility to ask.”

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.