Spring has sprung, and a fan has fallen

Arizona Diamondbacks pitchers throw during camp at Salt River Fields. View gallery>>

Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — One Diamondbacks fan may rethink his next trip to spring training.

An older gentleman was struck in the shoulder when a pitch from sidearmer Adam Russell got away during a bullpen session Monday morning. Quite a bit away, actually.

It started when J.J. Putz threw a pitch that bounced away from his catcher and directly in front of Russell’s catcher, who naturally became distracted. Russell, in mid-delivery, attempted to hold up but could not, and the ball sailed into a viewing area about 25 feet to the right and 25 feet above the six-pack of mounds at the D-backs’ training facility at Salt River Fields. The ball flew over a concrete wall and a chain-link fence.

The man went to the ground as another fan yelled "man down" but soon got back to his feet.

"I’m glad to see that he got up under his own power and he was OK," said Russell, 6-foot-8 and 250. "My sincerest apologies to that fan. Unreal."  

As Russell watched the flight of the ball, he could see trouble.

"You give it one of those, ‘No, no, no, no … it got him,’" he said. "You get all this body moving forward, it is tough to stop right in the middle. I was trying to cut it off and hold it, and it just sailed on me.

"I’m sure he thought he would be safe thirty feet up and thirty feet over."

Russell, 30, began throwing from a low arm slot at the Los Angeles Angels’ request at the end of the 2012 season. He used that delivery for the first time in a full season with Class AAA Norfolk of the Baltimore organization last year, where he was 3-3 with a 2.37 ERA in 42 appearances, before being signed as a minor-league free agent with the D-backs. General manager Kevin Towers is familiar with Russell, having acquired him along with Clayton Richard in San Diego from the Chicago White Sox for Jake Peavy at the 2009 trading deadline.

As for the beleaguered fan, manager Kirk Gibson said he was almost struck by a foul ball as he was leaving the facility.

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