John Lannan was back in the clubhouse today looking in fine shape considering he had taken a ball off his nose in the fourth inning of last night’s 3-2 loss to the Colorado Rockies. The left-handed starter didn’t have much if any swelling around that area of his face but did reveal there was cartilage damage on the right side of his nose.
The harrowing moment came with one out in the fourth after Lannan had retired 10 consecutive hitters, including five on strikeouts. Rockies cleanup hitter Ty Wigginton got a hold of a sinker and sent it right back at Lannan, who once he was hit immediately crumpled to the mound.
“I guess I got a piece of it with my glove, so I was able to move my head a little bit so it nicked my nose,” said Lannan, who appeared to be on his way to perhaps his most effective start of the season. “At the time I didn’t know exactly what was going on. I just saw blood and figured I wouldn’t be able to pitch anymore so I walked off.”
Trainer Lee Kuntz and Nationals coaches accompanied Lannan off the field, and once he got inside to the clubhouse, the first phone call he made was to his fiancée to let her know he was okay. The second call was to his parents.
Replays appeared to show the ball caroming hard off Lannan’s face, and the injury at first looked potentially more serious. Manager Davey Johnson called it a miracle that the injury wasn’t more significant, and players, especially his fellow pitchers, called it one of the more disturbing incidents this season.
Lannan’s injury came on the same day the Nationals placed catcher Ivan Rodriguez on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right oblique and announced reliever Cole Kimball would require season-ending surgery on his right rotator cuff.
Lannan is scheduled to start on Saturday after the all-star break, and indications are that turn isn’t in jeopardy. Entering last night’s game, Lannan had been among the club’s most effective starters, going 3-0 with a 1.92 ERA. In his five other no-decisions, he was in line to get the win three times when he left the game.
“That’s a blessing there,” Johnson said of Lannan still being in line to pitch next week. “It was dangerous.”
If the bleeding in his nose remains under control over these next few days, Lannan probably will throw lightly on Thursday in Atlanta, Johnson said, before the series against the Braves following the all-star break.