PITTSBURGH -- After being kneed in the head during a slide into second base, Pirates shortstop Jordy Mercer was shaken up and had to leave Sunday night's game at PNC Park. More bad news for a team already dealing with plenty of it, right? Maybe not.
Mercer was already feeling "tremendously better" after the game, having cleared the concussion protocol. In what turned out to be the opposite of adding insult to injury, rookie Adam Frazier entered the game for Mercer and starred in the Bucs' 4-3 win over Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers.
"He's a sandlot rat, man," manager Clint Hurdle said of Frazier, "and I mean that in a very loving way."
After reaching on a leadoff single against Kershaw, extending his hitting streak to 11 games, Mercer made an awkward slide into second to break up a double play. Dodgers second baseman Chase Utley's right knee struck Mercer in the head as he was nearing the bag.
Mercer briefly stood up near second base then went down on one knee. Head athletic trainer Todd Tomczyk checked on Mercer, who later slowly walked off the field on his own.
"He was a little foggy out there," Hurdle said.
Mercer did not return to the field in the second inning, and the team announced that he was dealing with head and right ear discomfort. Mercer said the exit was precautionary. It also set up an unlikely Sunday night success story.
Sean Rodriguez moved from right field to shortstop, and Frazier entered the game to play right field, batting first against Kershaw.
"When you see Jordy get hit in the head right there, you hope it isn't serious," Frazier said. "I knew there was an opportunity I could come in the next half-inning. Just tried to get loose real quick."
Frazier sparked the Pirates' four-run second inning with an RBI single to left field off the game's best pitcher, picked up another hit in the fourth inning and made the highlight reel with a diving grab in right field for the second out of the seventh inning.
"The kid plays. We saw it in Spring Training," Hurdle said. "Everybody that's had him in the Minor Leagues has seen it. Shows up and goes to work. Talk about a jump start, to get thrown in that game at that point in time.
"He's all over the place. Fun to watch."