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PETERSBURG -- Will Rhymes' right arm had just been hit hard by a Franklin Morales fastball in the eighth inning of the Rays' 2-1 win over the Red Sox on Wednesday night. He had decided to tough it out, telling manager Joe Maddon and Tampa Bay's training staff that he could go to first base.
Shortly afterward, in a bizarre and frightening scene that quieted Tropicana Field, he had fainted and slowly collapsed to the ground in the arms of first-base coach George Hendrick. The team's trainers had once again rushed to Rhymes, with assistant athletic trainer Paul Harker cradling his head as he lay briefly unconscious on the field.
But somehow, despite the unusual and scary circumstances, Rhymes managed to crack a joke when he came to and trainers started asking him questions.
"I told them I was Batman just to mess with them," Rhymes said.
"Yes, I did," added Rhymes, sitting with a very swollen arm inside his locker in the Rays' clubhouse about an hour after the game ended.
Rhymes was carted off the field but remained under the supervision of several doctors in the clubhouse. X-rays on his arm came back negative, and the Rays announced that the the infielder will be day to day with a bruise on his right forearm and he fainted due to a sort of adrenaline rush.
"I feel extremely lucky that it's not fractured, and hopefully I'll be able to get this taken care of and get back out there," said Rhymes, a victim of the most unusual of Tampa Bay's rash of early season injuries. "But yes, it does seem like we have a little curse going on, and I hope it stops. I hope we're done for the year, all of us. I hope we can get healthy, stay healthy and have a chance to go out there and play."
Rhymes said he felt "totally good" when he took first base as Morales left the game to boos from the crowd. But once Rhymes got there, he started feeling dizzy and nauseous as the adrenaline wore off, motioning toward Hendrick and Maddon that he needed to come out as he attempted to walk off the field.
"You saw the rest. I didn't get real far," Rhymes said. "Thankfully [Hendrick] was there."
Rhymes eventually began moving on his own, sitting up slowly and walking with some assistance toward a medical cart. He left the field sitting in the front seat with head athletic trainer Ron Porterfield beside him. Rhymes doesn't remember anything that happened once he began to faint, so he stopped to watch the replay on a clubhouse TV before talking with reporters.
"Yeah, because I don't remember it," he said. "I was curious as to what happened."
While Rhymes was able to display a sense of humor after finding out his arm would be fine sooner rather than later, the immediate reaction in both the Tampa Bay and Boston clubhouses was one of shock and concern.
"That scared me, too, because I tried to go in with my fastball," Morales said. "I hit him, and I feel bad for him. I'm going to call him and talk to him."
"It's happened to me before coming off of surgeries where you get up and you just feel that blood pressure drop. I'm sure it was a scary moment for him," added Red Sox first baseman Adrian Gonzalez. "He started walking around and you could see him start to get dizzy and sweating a little bit. It was a good thing [Hendrick] was able to grab onto him."
"My heart stopped, yeah," Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said. "That was an ugly sight. Scary."
Center fielder B.J. Upton said it was probably the scariest thing he'd seen on a baseball field. Maddon had experienced something similar during his career, and once he saw Rhymes was fine, he grew more worried about the possibility of a fractured arm keeping him off the field for an extended period of time.
"It is a scary situation," outfielder Matt Joyce said. "You never want to see somebody -- whether it's on your team or not, whoever -- go down like that. You just say your prayers and hope for the best."
In the end, though, Rhymes emerged with only a day to day injury, quite a bit of soreness and an overall sense of optimism -- and more important, relief.
"Thank God. What are you going to do?" he said. "I guess I caught a break there."