O'Neill gets 8 stitches after OF collision with Devers

Outfielder is also going through concussion protocol; Abreu to get more reps

April 15th, 2024

BOSTON -- Patriots' Day, which coincides with the Boston Marathon, is typically one of the most festive occasions of the year at Fenway Park.

On a sparkling and unseasonably warm day, that was again the case on Monday until a brief hush came over the ballpark when two of the most important players on the Red Sox crashed into each other in pursuit of a pop fly in short left field.

charged in to make the catch. drifted back and did grab the popup for the final out of the top of the seventh inning in Boston’s eventual 6-0 loss to the Guardians.

The back of Devers’ head rammed into O’Neill’s forehead, and both players stayed on the ground for a bit to gather themselves.

O’Neill, who was bloodied, got the worst of it, exiting the game and getting eight stitches. He was in concussion protocol when the game ended, leaving his status in the upcoming days up in the air.

It appears Devers, who just returned Monday from a three-game absence due to a nagging left shoulder, escaped injury. He stayed in the game and the Red Sox will continue to monitor him.

“T.O. has a big gash here, eight stitches so we'll see what happens next,” said Red Sox manager Alex Cora. “He's going through concussion protocol. Hopefully everything's fine. Raffy, same deal, just got hit hard. He says he feels good. Feels good. So we'll wait and see.”

While it looks like the Red Sox will avoid another major injury in a season in which they’ve already had their share, the play was unsettling for the club in real time.

“As any ballplayer on the field, I think that’s the worst play in baseball,” said righty Kutter Crawford. “You’ve got the infielder running back on a blooper and you’ve got the outfielder running in hard on the blooper. It's tough to watch. You don't want to see two of your teammates lay on the ground. It’s tough to watch and it’s just one of the worst plays that can happen in baseball.”

It’s easy for a casual observer to wonder why there wasn’t better communication on the play. But on a day a crowd of 33,008 packed Fenway, it could have been a case of the players not being able to hear each other.

“They called it at the same time, probably,” said Cora. “In this game, we talk about communication and all that. But with [33,008] people in there, it’s hard. Two guys trying to make plays and they run into each other.”

Typically, the outfielder has priority on a play like that, but it’s possible Devers didn’t know the speedy O’Neill was that close.

Shortstop Ceddanne Rafaela was also in pursuit of the ball, but fortunately didn’t get close enough to run into his teammates.

“I didn’t really have a view, but I think both called it at the same time,” Rafaela said.

Already, the Red Sox lost key free-agent pitching acquisition Lucas Giolito for the season due to a right UCL injury he suffered during Spring Training. Trevor Story, the team’s leader in the clubhouse and in the infield, won’t play again this season after fracturing his left shoulder in pursuit of a grounder.

The Red Sox hope this collision was just a scare.

“Scary, yeah, you said it right,” said Cora. “But when I got there, Raffy was OK, I saw the blood. But hopefully both of them are OK, Raffy [for Tuesday and] we’ll see about T.O.”

More of Abreu
Cora made it clear on Monday that left-handed hitter Wilyer Abreu is going to start getting more playing time, starting against all righties. And early in the contest, Abreu made his presence felt with a tremendous catch against the wall in right to rob José Ramirez of extra bases. The ball was struck so well that it would have been a homer in 20 of MLB’s 30 ballparks.

The increased presence of Abreu means that Rafaela, who has been brilliant in center field, is going to see more time at short against righties. Rafaela made all the plays in his first start of the season at short in Monday’s loss.

“Wily has to play,” said Cora. “This is the way we’re going to find at-bats for him. He will play every day. We’ll move people around but he will play against righties. This is not about the shortstop thing. This is about Abreu getting at-bats.”