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Calhoun has fractured jaw after being hit by pitch

@Sullivan_Ranger
March 9, 2020

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Rangers were left shaken up as a team after outfielder Willie Calhoun was hit in the mouth by a 95-mph fastball during Sunday’s 9-8 win over the Dodgers. The club announced that a CT scan and examination revealed a fractured jaw. Calhoun underwent surgery on Monday

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Rangers were left shaken up as a team after outfielder Willie Calhoun was hit in the mouth by a 95-mph fastball during Sunday’s 9-8 win over the Dodgers.

The club announced that a CT scan and examination revealed a fractured jaw. Calhoun underwent surgery on Monday and had a single plate inserted to stabilize the fracture. He did not need to have the jaw wired shut so that it could heal properly. He is expected to be discharged later this week and will be re-evaluated in two weeks.

Calhoun was batting in the bottom of the first when he was hit by a pitch thrown by left-hander Julio Urías. Calhoun went down immediately, staying on the ground for about 10 minutes while being tended to by Rangers trainer Matt Lucero.

Calhoun suffered bleeding inside of the mouth, but did not lose consciousness. He was finally placed in an equipment cart, driven off the field and then taken to St. Joseph’s Hospital in Phoenix for further examination and treatment by a specialist.

“I felt so bad for him because he wasn’t saying anything and you could tell he was hurting,” teammate Joey Gallo said. “It’s tough because I’m really, really close with Willie. He’s one of my best friends, so to see that happen and him go down like that, it was really, really tough. I just tried to be there for him and make sure he knew we were all around him and trying to help him and just praying that he’s OK.”

Calhoun was not wearing a batting flap that hitters normally wear during the regular season.

“The first thing I thought when he was hit was ‘Man, I wish he was wearing his flap.’” Gallo said. “He’s usually wearing his flap, but he hasn’t worn it. It was tough to play after that.”

Calhoun was scheduled to be examined by Dr. Jeffrey Edelstein, an oculofacial specialist. Edelstein is the same doctor who treated former Rangers Minor League coach Howard Johnson, who was hit in the face by a foul ball two years ago at the end of Spring Training.

General manager Jon Daniels and manager Chris Woodward drove to the hospital to be with Calhoun. Bench coach Don Wakamatsu filled in as manager and Nick Solak replaced Calhoun in left field.

The Rangers were bracing for the possibility of Calhoun being out for an extended period of time. Calhoun came into camp as the Rangers starting left fielder with a clear opportunity of being an everyday player for the first time in his career.

“It’s never good, man,” shortstop Elvis Andrus said. “Especially where he was with as a player, all the hard work he has put in, especially the past few years. Feeling amazing knowing how important he is to our club. To have that happen, it’s a big setback for the team. But it’s a scary moment, whether it’s your teammate or [somebody from] the other team.”

If Calhoun is sidelined well into the beginning of the regular season, the Rangers will likely turn to Solak, Scott Heineman or Adolis García to help fill left field. Solak began the Cactus League playing center field, but Danny Santana is expected to be the everyday guy at that spot.

Calhoun came up in the Dodgers organization and was teammates with Urías in 2017 at Triple-A Oklahoma City. Urías was visibly upset after hitting Calhoun, prompting manager Dave Roberts to head to the mound to calm his pitcher down.

In the bottom of the second, Rougned Odor was on base when Greg Bird flied out to center to end the inning. As Urías walked off the field, he asked Odor how Calhoun was doing and if he could get his phone number. Odor gave it to him.

“We’ve known each other since we were in the Minor Leagues together,” Urías said. “He was always one of the teammates I had a good relationship with, him and Alex Verdugo. In the second inning, I really had a hard time and I didn’t feel like myself out there. I’ve never been in a situation like that. It was really hard. I just really didn’t feel like it was me out there.

“After the second inning, I kept praying for him. He was in my thoughts. I went out for the third inning and I have to continue my job. I trust in God, put it in the hands of God and go out and focus on pitching.”

Rangers starter Jordan Lyles said he understood what Urías was going through.

“Obviously he had no intent,” Lyles said. “He was probably working on stuff himself. Very unfortunate. I have been in his shoes before. Hit another person in the face before. It changes your mindset going forward in that outing. You don’t want to yank another fastball. It’s tough mentally.”

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.