Swift Recovery By Mariner Pitcher -- Injured Hurler Says Out Of Hospital
Tomorrow: Mariners vs. Yankees, Kingdome, 7:05 p.m.
Pitcher Billy Swift can be thankful baseball is a game of inches.
The Seattle pitcher was hit in the forehead by a line drive off the bat of Minnesota's Gary Gaetti in the fourth inning of yesterday's 4-0 Mariner victory at the Kingdome.
Swift, 28, never lost consciousness but had to be helped off the field. He was taken to Providence Hospital, where he was being observed. Swift said this morning that he was feeling better and would be released today.
``It left a cold chill throughout the park. Both teams could feel it,''Today: No game. Seattle Manager Jim Lefebvre said.
But it was a matter of inches, and milliseconds, for Swift. There was a potential for a much more serious injury.
``When I first saw it, I thought he got his glove up, then it hit his head,'' catcher Matt Sinatro said. ``But apparently, it hit him square. Thank God it hit him on the hard part of the head.
``I saw it like it was in slow motion,'' Sinatro said. ``He did duck his head.''
Trainer Rick Griffin, one of the first to reach Swift on the side of the mound, said, ``It would have got him square in the face if he hadn't dropped his head.''
Griffin said that when he reached Swift, he ran through a quick series of tests, checking Swift's state of consciousness, the dilation of his eyes, his speech and how coherent he was. Swift responded well but complained of a major headache.
Dr. Larry Pedegana, the team's orthopedic surgeon, examined Swift in the clubhouse and said, ``He has a contusion (bruise) in the middle of his forehead. It's nothing serious. He ducked his head down enough so it hit him on the forehead.''
Griffin said Swift remained hospitalized overnight because ``anytime you get hit in the head with a blunt object, there's a chance something can be going on internally. He has to be in a situation where he can be monitored and observed.''
Gaetti said of the play, ``You can't do anything. You just freeze. It's pretty gruesome. It looked like he might have gotten a glove on it. You have to hope he's OK.''
Keith Comstock, who picked up his second career save after matching the longest relief outing of his career, four innings, said, ``It could happen to anybody. This is a family-oriented atmosphere, so it's the same reaction as if a family member got hurt.
``But he's a good Irish Catholic with a strong head. He's going to be all right.''
Lefebvre awaited another examination of Swift today before making pitching-staff decisions. Swift, who was inserted into Seattle's starting rotation July 8, has a 3-0 record with a 1.26 earned-run average in five starts. He was working on a 16-inning scoreless streak and a one-hitter before his unplanned exit.
Reliever Gene Harris (1-1), who got his first victory of the season and second as a Mariner, and Comstock carried the load on the mound.
Gaetti's hit, which went off Swift's head and into the stands on one bounce for a double, was the last by the visitors until a two-out double by Greg Gagne in the ninth.
One of Comstock's toughest spots was in the seventh inning, when he issued a one-out walk and had a 3-0 count on John Moses.
``At 34 years old, I'd better be quick to make an adjustment. A younger guy can get away with it,'' Comstock said.
Comstock said that when Lefebvre visited the mound, ``he told me, `You better make an adjustment, old man.' He thought I was overthrowing. I don't know if that was it. but I was not bending the way I should have been bending.''
He bent correctly and got Moses out on a fly ball to right field. Kirby Puckett then flied out to center.
The Mariners scored the runs they needed in the first inning off Allan Anderson (4-15). Opponents have a .309 average against him, and the first four Mariners got hits. Ken Griffey Jr. and Jeffrey Leonard hit run-scoring singles, and Alvin Davis had a sacrifice fly.
The final run was scored in the sixth on Pete O'Brien's bases-loaded groundout.
The Mariners have climbed to five games above .500 (57-52) for the second time this season. They were 53-48 July 28.
The franchise record is seven games above .500. The Mariners still have nine games left on this home stand against New York, the worst team in baseball; Boston, and Baltimore.
SOVIET SCOUTS? `COMMIE' WONDERS ABOUT HIS FUTURE
Two Soviet broadcasters spent some time observing Mariner radio guys Dave Niehaus and Rick Rizzs during yesterday's game.
The team's public-relations director called the booth to check on the pair late in the game when Mariner reliever Keith Comstock was on the mound.
Engineer Kevin Cremin answered, ``I don't know. I'm getting a little nervous every time Dave calls Comstock `Commie' (his nickname).''
Comstock, who has played for 12 minor-league teams, four major-league teams and one Japanese team, said, ``They're probably a couple of Soviet scouts here to check me out. That's all I need to hear.''
It took a line drive off Bill Swift's forehead in the fourth inning yesterday to end a consecutive string for Mariner starters.
Since July 8, Mariner starters had worked into the sixth inning for 25 straight games and into the seventh for 24 of the 25. Only Erik Hanson's 5 1/3 innings of work July 21 broke the string.
During that stretch, the starters averaged 7 1/3 innings with an earned-run average of 2.60 and a record of 14-11.
Brian Harper's 25-game hitting streak was ended with an 0-for-4 afternoon. He hit into a double play and a fielder's choice and twice flied out to right.
It was the longest streak in the majors this season.
Elvis Presley sightings could be numerous Thursday for the Elvis is Everywhere promotion. The first 100 Elvis impersonators showing up at a radio booth will receive free admission.
The Mariners will conduct a local tryout Wednesday at Bellevue Community College from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Amateur aspirants, age 16 to 21, are asked to bring gloves, shoes and practice gear.
Probable starting pitchers for the Yankee series: tomorrow, Erik Hanson (11-8), in his first outing since his outstanding 11-inning no-decision against Oakland, against Mike Witt (0-4); Wednesday, Brian Holman (11-7) vs. Chuck Cary; Thursday, Matt Young (5-11) vs. Tim Leary (5-14).
The Mariner pitching staff leads the league in strikeouts with 720. . . . The team's ERA is 3.62, third-best in the league. It is the M's lowest ERA ever after Aug. 1. . . . The 57 victories is are one more than the M's had the entire season in 1978 season (56-104).
HOW RUNS SCORED
- SEATTLE FIRST: Reynolds doubled to left. Cotto singled to right, Reynolds to third. Griffey singled to right, Reynolds scored, Cotto to third. Leonard singled to right, Cotto scored, Griffey to third. Davis hit sacrifice fly to center, Griffey scored. Mariners 3, Twins 0.
- SEATTLE SIXTH: Griffey safe on shortstop Gagne's fielding error. Leonard struck out. Davis singled to right, Griffey to second. Martinez walked, Griffey to third, Davis to second. O'Brien grounded out to second, Griffey scored. Mariners 4, Twins 0.
- Caught stealing: Mariners - Griffey.
- Strikeouts: Twins - Moses, Gagne 2, Newman; Mariners - Sinatro 2, Vizquel, Cotto, Leonard 2.
Home season total: 1,047,438
Avg. for 56 games: 18,704
Calgary 2, at Vancouver 1 - Jose Melendez pitched eight innings of no-hit ball as he led the Cannons over the Canadians. Melendez (10-1) lost his no-hit bid on the first pitch in the bottom of the ninth when Norberto Martin doubled.
Melendez also allowed another double and a single before Scott Medvin came on to retire Tracy Woodson for the final out. Medvin earned his 10th save. The Cannons scored in the first. Tino Martinez drove in one and scored the other.
- New Britain 3, Williamsport (43-65) 2.
- Durham 9, Peninsula (20-22) 8.
- Mariners (21-13) 8, Angels 0.
- Bellingham (19-29) 7, Everett 5.