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Much improved, House returns to Blue Jays' clubhouse

MLB.com

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Blue Jays reliever TJ House, grateful and relieved, returned to the clubhouse during the sixth inning of Saturday's Grapefruit League game against the Phillies, an 8-2 Toronto loss. It was barely 24 hours after he'd been taken to the hospital by ambulance after being hit in the head by a line drive in Lakeland.

"I'm doing a lot better than I thought I would be doing," he said. "Definitely got some good news at the hospital. I came back pretty clear. No fractures of the skull or anything. Which is great, especially for the force it took. The ball traveled all the way back to home plate, I found out. I didn't know that.

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Blue Jays reliever TJ House, grateful and relieved, returned to the clubhouse during the sixth inning of Saturday's Grapefruit League game against the Phillies, an 8-2 Toronto loss. It was barely 24 hours after he'd been taken to the hospital by ambulance after being hit in the head by a line drive in Lakeland.

"I'm doing a lot better than I thought I would be doing," he said. "Definitely got some good news at the hospital. I came back pretty clear. No fractures of the skull or anything. Which is great, especially for the force it took. The ball traveled all the way back to home plate, I found out. I didn't know that.

"Mainly, it's just monitoring now. If everything goes good then I can just kind of continue on my way and return back to normalcy."

House tweets good news after line-drive scare

House isn't sure if he suffered a concussion. "Obviously, there's a great possibility for it," he said. "They don't know 100 percent if it's there or not. They definitely want to monitor it to see if there are any residual effects from what happened. But, for the most part, I feel fine. I don't have anything that's lingering or carrying over. Which is crazy to me. I still don't understand it.

"It was scary. You don't know what's going to happen to you. You don't know if you're going to be OK. If you're going to survive this. It's scary because I've seen someone get hit in the head. When I was with Cleveland I saw Carlos Carrasco get hit in 2015. You're terrified just watching it. And actually being that person is not fun because you just don't know."

Making the situation even worse was that he knew his mother, Darlene, was listening to the game at work in Picayune, Miss.

"She was like, 'I almost had a heart attack,'" House said. "I was on the field and I was [telling them], 'Please, can you text her or call her right now?' While I was laying there I heard them talking to her. They were like, 'He's awake right now, nothing too serious. We're going to go to the hospital and we'll keep you updated.' So they kept her updated through the whole process until I was able to get on the phone and talk to her."

House never lost consciousness. "I remember exactly letting the ball go, it coming back to me, getting hit, trying to stand back up," he said. "The ride to the hospital, the whole conversation I was having with everyone.

"I was just asking them when [the ambulance] was going to be here. Could I please just get off the field? I'm tired. I just want to get out of here. To help with the pain a little bit. That was the worst part, and not knowing what was going to happen to me. There are so many thoughts going though your mind."

Intense pain lasted from the moment of impact to late Friday night. House is going to take the next few days off, undergo more tests including a concussion protocol and then proceed from there.

"That's going to progress day by day," he explained. "If I'm feeling good and I'm doing good and I continue to make strides, I'll continue to go forward. If there's a setback I'm going to slow it down. We're going to go as far as my body can take it. It's a head injury, so it's different. Not so much physical. Mental stuff."

House was amazed by the outpouring of support he received on social media.

Tweet from @THouse25: I appreciate everyone who reached out through social media and texts/calls. I hope to be back out doing what I love soon. Much love!

"I finally got my phone last night and it was just unbelievable," he said. "People that I played with in past organizations and guys I hadn't seen in years and family members. The list goes on and on. I probably have 150 texts right now that I still haven't responded to, that I'm trying to get back to, reach back and say thanks. There are a lot of people that care. It's awesome."

House is fully aware that the incident could have turned out so much worse. "I got hit. I don't know how hard it was going. At least a hundred miles an hour right on the head," he said. "It was a rough day. A whirlwind experience.

"But I walked out of the hospital smiling, so I can't be too upset with anything. Obviously I wish it had never happened. But I'm doing good."

No changes after this

After Blue Jays left-hander J.A. Happ suffered a fractured skull when hit behind the left ear by a line drive in May 2013, there was a renewed push to devise protective equipment for pitchers. Major League Baseball worked with companies to develop prototypes of caps and liners that could withstand the impact of a line drive.

Video: TOR@TB: Happ struck by line drive, forced to leave

The previous season, A's pitcher Brandon McCarthy required emergency brain surgery after being hit by a line drive.

One obstacle was that even if a pitcher wore a padded cap, it still left his face, temples and neck exposed.

Another is that every experimental cap that was manufactured was bulky. Some pitchers said they were uncomfortable. Others said they simply looked funny. Padres reliever Alex Torres became the first to wear the cap in a regular-season game in 2014, but he remained an outlier.

"I don't know how you do anything about it," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "I know they've tried to come up with some headgear, some padding or something. I'm sure they'll continue to look at that. There might be something where the player has the option to wear something if he wants to. But I don't think any of them do."

Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com.

Toronto Blue Jays, TJ House