D-backs' Saunders OK after line drive off shin

BY foxsports • March 12, 2012

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Joe Saunders knows it could have been a lot worse.

Saunders was struck in the lower left leg by a line drive in the first inning against the Indians on Monday, but he appeared to escape serious injury because the ball did not strike him squarely on the shin. X-rays are expected, but Saunders said he believes it is only a bone bruise.

"It caught me on the side of the shin. It hit a lot of meat. Hopefully the meat will calm down a little bit. If I would have gotten hit on the shin bone, I'd be toast. Fortunately, that didn't happen," Saunders said.

Saunders got the first two batters he faced in what was expected to be a three-inning sint before Carlos Santana lined one back up the middle that hit Saunders and caromed toward third base. Saunders tracked the ball down but threw wildly to first.

Manager Kirk Gibson, pitching coach Charlie Nagy and the training staff joined Saunders on the mound, and he took two warmup pitches before being replaced by Joe Martinez in the Indians' eventual 3-2 victory at Goodyear Ballpark.

"I didn't want him to favor that and maybe jeopardize his shoulder," Gibson said. "It's the spring -- we don't want to mess with that. We'll see how he comes out of it. Hopefully he's OK.

"He was throwing the ball good. He had good movement on his pitches, the pitches that he threw."

Saunders said he wanted to continue but felt soreness when he pushed off the rubber on his warmup throws.

"I felt like I could have gone on, but they played the side of being cautious, and you can't really fault them for that. I thought I was throwing the ball good. I felt it was coming out good," Saunders said.

"It kind of sucks that I got hit there. What are you going to do?"

The D-backs did not want to take any chances. They lost a prospective member of their starting rotation last spring when Zach Duke suffered a broken hand when he was struck by a line drive. Duke missed more than two months.

Josh Collmenter, who ended up filling Duke's rotation spot last season, was scratched from an earlier start this spring because of tightness in his forearm. He threw a bullpen on Sunday, however, and is scheduled to start in a split-squad game Wednesday night against the Rockies at Salt River Fields.

Saunders was making his second start of the spring after giving up two runs and five hits in two innings against the Rangers on March 6. He does not believe he will be set back.

"It is probably going to be sore, but I think I'll be all right," said Saunders, who is expected to open the season in the No. 3 spot in the rotation and make his first regular-season start April 8 against the Giants.

'You can't play the hard-nosed, I'm-OK kind of person. If you are feeling sore, you have to get in there (training room) and take care of it. Obviously, now, I'm going to be in there a lot. I think it's the right thing."

Saunders said he saw the line drive coming but there was no time to react.

"You see that white thing at your feet, and you say, 'It is either going to hit me or go through my legs.' You can't even react at that level. It's kind of a blur."


Right-hander Trevor Cahill will make his second spring start Tuesday when the D-backs face old friend Dan Haren, newcomer Albert Pujols and the Los Angeles Angels at Salt River Fields. It will be the Angels' only appearance at Salt River Fields this spring.

Tyler Skaggs, Mike Zagurski, Brett Lorin, Mike DeMark and Jason Lane also are expected to pitch for the D-backs.


Rookie A.J. Pollock beat out a bunt single in the ninth inning but was left on third base when Mesa native Jeremy Accardo got to the final out of the game for the Indians. Pollock had one hit and rookie Adam Eaton, who played the whole game in right field, had two hits. "Smart play," Gibson said of Pollock's bunt. "Same with Eaton. They understand what is going on in the game." ... Rookie Patrick Corbin will make his first spring start in the split-squad game against the Padres on Wednesday at Salt River Fields."We want to give him an opportunity while he is here. We have to make a decision on some cuts. He's thrown the ball well. He's worked diligently," Gibson said. Rookie Trevor Bauer has started one game, and rookie Tyler Skaggs was scheduled to start before being scratched because of minor shoulder tenderness.

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