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The Cubs star third baseman, Kris Bryant, suffered a scary moment in Sunday’s afternoon matchup against the Colorado Rockies.  In the top of the first inning, after the first two batters were retired, Bryant was hit in the head with a German Marquez fastball.  While Bryant appeared disoriented and struggled off the field, the Cubs bench responded emotionally to the sight of their best player taking a beanball to the head.  Cubs hitting coach, Chili Davis, and assistant hitting coach, Andy Haines were both ejected after blowing off some steam.  That didn’t seem to bother the Cubs bats as they went on to win a wild affair in the rubber game of a three-game series at Coors Field.

After the game, most attention was focused on the shot to the head that KB took and what his condition was moving forward.  As of now, the team has said that Bryant has passed all the concussion tests provided and only suffered a laceration above his left eye.  After such a scary sight, that would seem to be the best that Bryant and the team could hope for.  While it remains to be seen whether KB will be in the lineup on Tuesday night in Cleveland, one could hardly blame him if he needed a couple of days off.  However, Bryant’s physical condition isn’t the only thing to consider.

Many batters react differently after taking a pitched ball to their heads.  Some players have been able to continue with their career like nothing ever happened while others have struggled to regain their confidence in the batters’ box after being nailed with a fastball to the head.  One need only look to former Cubs superstar Sammy Sosa for an example.

Sosa was one of the biggest superstars in the game in 2003 when he was hit in the helmet by a Salomon Torres fastball in the fourth inning of a Sunday afternoon game on April 20, 2003.  The pitch shattered Sosa’s helmet and left him with a few cuts and one giant scare.  However, the pitch on that sunny April day left Sosa with something else that could not be seen on the outside.  After he was beaned by the Torres’ fastball, Sammy was never again the same in the batters’ box.  It was obvious that that pitch was in the back of his mind every time that he dug in at the plate.  He was quick to bail out, not willing to dive out and get to the pitch on the outside corner.  He no longer seemed to be an intimidating presence in the box and instead was intimidated by a pitch that could have ended his career, or worse.

As Yogi Berra once said, “Ninety percent of the game is mental, and the other half is physical”.  Nobody knows how Kris Bryant will respond to his brush with fate, but it will take a great deal of mental strength for him to dig back into the batters’ box with the same determination and confidence he has showed throughout his short career so far.

 

Photo from chicagotribune.com

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