A fan struck in the head by rookie Addison Russell’s bat in the seventh inning was treated by medical staff for several minutes in the box seats behind the Cubs’ on-deck circle Monday night before being taken from Wrigley Field on a stretcher.
The man, who was conscious and holding his hands to his head when carried away by paramedics, was taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital, the Cubs said in a release late Monday night.
“The patient was conscious and communicating with staff while being transported from the stands,” the release said.
Russell, who has lost grip on bats during his swing throughout his career, said he cringed when the bat flew out of his hands Monday.
“In my mind, I’m yelling `watch out, watch out,’ “ he said. “I saw the dude’s glasses fly off. It wasn’t pretty. I feel really bad.
“Words can’t describe how bad I feel,” he said. “If I see that guy, I’m willing to give him the bat and sign it, everything.”
Russell later struck out but said it wasn’t because he was rattled or lost focus.
Russell lost grip on bats on swings both in Pittsburgh and Cincinnati in his first four games after debuting last Tuesday. It’s something he remembers happening all the way back to his first game in rookie ball as a professional in 2012.
“I swung at four pitches, and on two of the pitches I let go of the bat,” he said. “I see it a lot.”
It was the second time in eight days the Cubs have been involved in a fan being injured by objects reaching the seating areas.
A week earlier in Pittsburgh, a woman walking to her seat in the front row behind home plate was struck by a Starlin Castro foul ball that stretch the protective mesh enough to hit her hard in the back of the head.
After the Cubs-Pirates game was delayed 23 minutes, she was taken to a local hospital, where she was treated and released.
“It’s awful,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “What I see is that I never want my kids sitting unprotected, even though it’s a good seat.”
He said he’s never forgotten that game in the minors in the 1970s, when he was catching, “and a ball gets fouled back and hit a little kid right in the face,” he said.
“You come to the games, please pay attention,” he added. “It’s a crazy game. Things fly in the stands. It’s awful but we all know that it can happen.”