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Rays’ Joey Wendle okay after being hit in helmet by pitch

The ball appeared to at least graze Wendle’s face, but he appeared to be okay as he left the field.
Joey Wendle heads to the Rays clubhouse with head athletic trainer Joe Benge after being hit on the helmet by a pitch in Monday's game.
Joey Wendle heads to the Rays clubhouse with head athletic trainer Joe Benge after being hit on the helmet by a pitch in Monday's game. [ MARC TOPKIN | Times ]
Published Mar. 1
Updated Mar. 1

PORT CHARLOTTE — Rays second baseman Joey Wendle said he was bruised and a bit shaken but not injured after being hit in the helmet by a pitch and leaving Monday’s exhibition game.

“It was pretty close. Probably more scary than anything,” Wendle said. “I wasn’t sure immediately where it had hit, but I’m pretty confident it got all helmet and then the helmet just kind of whacked my face pretty good. But everything feels good, thankfully.”

Wendle said the Rays’ ear, nose and throat doctor was on sight and checked him out. His vision was fine, so no further testing or concussion protocol was planned. He was most sore in the “general region” of the nose, cheek and right eye.

“There’s nothing too tender,” Wendle said. “It just kind of feels like I got punched, not necessarily got hit by a baseball, so I’ll take the former of those two. Everything feels fine. Might have some bruising or might not, but overall I think I lucked out big time. ... It was a close call, and I’m glad it was nothing more.”

Rays manager Kevin Cash said the medical staff will check in with Wendle throughout Monday night, and if all goes well he will return to action on Wednesday. “We were all scared,” Cash said. “Hopefully we avoided something.”

Wendle bent over as he moved away from the plate but never went down as the up-and-in fastball from Minnesota lefty Lewis Thorpe hit him. Wendle was attended to immediately on the field by head athletic trainer Joe Benge, who appeared to be checking his vision.

Wendle said he knows there was “no intent” said Thorpe should continue pitching up and in.

Prospect Xavier Edwards took Wendle’s place at first base, then Wendle was further checked in the dugout by Benge. Wendle appeared from a distance to be okay and not bleeding. At the end of the half inning, he walked unaided to the Rays clubhouse in rightfield accompanied by Benge.