Kevin Pillar

Kevin Pillar of the New York Mets is hit in the face with a pitch from Atlanta pitcher Jacob Webb in the seventh inning Monday in Atlanta. Pillar suffered multiple nasal fractures, but tweeted soon after, “Scary moment but I’m doing fine!” John Bazemore/Associated Press

In a scene described by multiple members of the Mets as “scary,” New York’s Kevin Pillar was struck in the face Monday by a 95-mph fastball. The veteran outfielder was eventually able to leave the field at Atlanta’s Truist Park under his own power, but not before ESPN’s national TV audience saw him crouched on the dirt with blood pouring down.

On Tuesday morning, the team announced that Pillar has “multiple nasal fractures” and would be “meeting with a facial specialist in Atlanta to determine (the) next steps.”

The incident took place in the top of the seventh inning, on a 1-2 count with the bases loaded, two outs and the Mets leading 1-0. The base awarded to Pillar drove in a second run, and as he left the game with a towel over his face, he was replaced as a runner by New York’s Khalil Lee.

“Right now he’s in the hospital. They’re doing a CT scan,” Mets Manager Luis Rojas said of Pillar after the game, a 3-1 New York win. “We’ll find out more probably later tonight.”

“Not an easy moment,” added the manager. “Our prayers are with KP.”

Pillar followed that by tweeting, “Scary moment but I’m doing fine!”

The Braves reliever who threw the pitch, Jacob Webb, crouched on the mound in apparent distress while Pillar initially fell to his knees near home plate. The third-year pitcher was pulled from the game before facing another batter.

A seemingly shaken Webb was subsequently shown on the Braves’ bench receiving guidance from coaches Kevin Seitzer and Rick Kranitz.

Atlanta Jacob Webb reacts after hitting Kevin Pillar of the Mets with a pitch Monday. Webb was removed from the game and was visibly upset while sitting on the bench. John Bazemore/Associated Press

“I didn’t want the kid to continue after that,” Braves Manager Brian Snitker said of the 27-year-old Webb. “I just hope Pillar is OK. That was ugly and, everybody, keep him in your prayers.”

Snitker described the scene as “about as sickening as a thing as you can see on a baseball field.” The Atlanta manager praised Pillar as a “gamer” and a “pro, the way he carries himself, how he plays the game.”

Pillar became the second major league player hit in the face with a pitch in recent weeks. Philadelphia Phillies star Bryce Harper took a 97-mph fastball to the left cheek in an April 28 game against reliever Genesis Cabrera and the St. Louis Cardinals.

Harper subsequently announced he was OK, and Cabrera apologized. However, the Washington Nationals’ Ryan Zimmerman, a former teammate of Harper’s, took issue with what that episode said about the state of the game.

“All these guys throw 95-100, and half of them don’t know where it’s going or know how to pitch … and the team doesn’t really care,” Zimmerman said last month to the Sports Junkies. “They’re just trying to see if they have anything in them.

“A couple years ago, these guys would be in Double-A or Triple-A for another year, trying to learn how to pitch, but these teams just call them up to see if they can kind of hit lightning in a bottle,” continued the 36-year-old first baseman. “If not, they send them back down. They don’t care if they hit four guys on the other team – what does it matter to them? The GM for the other team is not in the box, so he doesn’t care. It’s a different kind of game, but it is what it is and that’s where we’re at.”

Numbers show that, in the pursuit of strikeouts, MLB pitchers are hitting batters and throwing wild pitches at an ever-increasing rate.

“We’ve brought guys up in a velocity world,” Miami Marlins Manager Don Mattingly recently said. “We gotta throw harder, you gotta get more spin rate, guys are trying to get more all the time. When you do that, you’re sacrificing the accuracy of what you’re doing.”

Mets catcher Brian McCann, who was the runner on third base when Pillar was struck, said Monday that what happened to his teammate was “real scary.”

“Everything kind of stops for a second,” said McCann. “Standing in the box, a normal person doesn’t realize how fast that ball is coming in there and how quick you have to react. That ball looked like it was chasing him.”

Pillar was the second player who had to leave the game prematurely for the injury-riddled Mets. Starting pitcher Taijuan Walker, who pitched three scoreless innings but showed discomfort on the mound, was pulled for what the team called “left-side tightness.” The 28-year-old righty, who has a 2.05 ERA in eight starts for the Mets, said afterward that he thought he would get an MRI exam on Tuesday but claimed he didn’t think it was “anything too serious.”

Pillar, a 32-year-old in his first season with the Mets after stints with four other teams, had been getting more playing time with Brandon Nimmo out. Following a slow start to the season, he began heating up in May and had batted .314, with a .340 on-base percentage and a .510 slugging percentage over his previous 14 games.

“This guy’s a warrior,” Rojas said of Pillar. “He shows up every day to play hard. He got up on his feet and left. There was no chance I thought he was going to be able to do that after he got hit in the face. But he got up and he left, and that’s at least one positive to see in the scary moment.”


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