On Sunday, the club placed Evans on the 45-day injured list with a concussion and injuries to the face and mouth. José Osuna was recalled from the alternate training site to take Evans' place on the roster.
"It's extremely scary. When you see the impact of that magnitude, that hard, both guys going full speed, right near the fence. It's a scary situation,” manager Derek Shelton said. “I thought our medical guys did a good job, thought the paramedics did a nice job. You have to be overly cautious in that situation. Moments like that are scary."
With a runner on second and nobody out in the sixth inning, Miguel Cabrera hit a fly ball into foul territory, and Polanco gave chase from right field while Evans did the same from first base. Polanco caught the ball and, while running full speed, crashed into Evans. Polanco’s right elbow struck the left side of Evans’ face, and both players fell to the ground. While Polanco quickly rolled over, Evans remained face-down in the dirt.
“You never want to see that. It kind of puts it into perspective since it's the position I play,” Tigers first baseman C.J. Cron said. “It could happen to anybody. It's just super unfortunate. It's a ball where it didn't really seem like either guy was comfortable calling for it, because you really don't know if you can get there or not. The first baseman was going to call for it and Polanco got there late. They both went for a play. It sucks to see. It sucks that it happened, and I wish him the best and I hope everything goes well.”
The ballpark went completely silent, with even the pumped-in crowd noise shut off, from the moment director of sports medicine Todd Tomczyk and Shelton reached Evans until play resumed.
“That’s not something you ever want to be a part of or be out there for or see. It was definitely scary,” shortstop Kevin Newman said. “I’ve never seen a teammate lying on the ground that long, going through all those tests and all that stuff, getting taken out by the stretcher. Definitely a chilling moment. Hopefully the news that we get back is bright.”
Evans was able to lift his head after the collision. Second baseman Adam Frazier, the first Pirates player to reach Evans and Polanco, immediately called for the club’s athletic training staff and pointed Tomczyk toward Evans before checking in on Polanco. Tomczyk slowly rolled Evans onto his back while tending to his neck and head.
Evans appeared to be responsive the entire time, moving his arms and legs and turning his head in the minutes after the collision took place. Shelton said Evans was able to respond to the questions asked of him by Tomczyk and assistant athletic trainer Ben Potenziano.
Evans’ body was stabilized as medical personnel loaded him onto a stretcher and carted him off the field. He was moved into an ambulance and taken to the hospital for evaluation.
“They were telling him to be really still, to not move, basically don’t do anything. But he was responding to them. He was conscious,” Newman said. “He could move his fingers. He could feel the things they were doing, so that was all really good stuff to see right off the bat.”
Polanco remained in the game, though he appeared to be shaken up by the incident. The Pirates sent in Colin Moran to replace Evans at first base.
Evans’ emergence has been a bright spot for the 3-12 Pirates. The 27-year-old rookie, who spent all of last season with the Cubs’ Triple-A affiliate, essentially established himself as an everyday player in the early going by hitting .359 with a .932 OPS and nine RBIs. On Friday night, he hit his first Major League homer.
“He’s been swinging it really well, playing good defense for us,” Newman said. “We’ll have to wait and hear how that unfolds, but certainly hope for the best.”