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Leiter OK after being hit by liner04/03/2004 7:12 PM ET
By Kevin T. Czerwinski / MLB.com
JUPITER, Fla. -- Al Leiter was struck in the right temple by an Alex Gonzalez line drive in the third inning of Saturday's game between the Mets and the Marlins at Roger Dean Stadium.
Gonzalez led off the inning by lining a 3-2 pitch back up the middle that glanced off Leiter's glove and hit him just to the right of his eye. Leiter immediately collapsed on the mound as manager Art Howe and pitching coach Rick Peterson raced onto the field. The veteran southpaw was clearly dazed as the New York training staff attended to him.
The television broadcast showed a closeup of Leiter and the imprint of the ball was visible on his head. Leiter was helped to his feet after a few minutes and taken off the field in a golf cart. He was taken to Jupiter Medical Center for X-rays and was then going to head back to Port St. Lucie, where he was to be examined by associate team physician Dr. Joseph Bosco. Leiter's X-ray, CAT scan came back negative early Saturday evening.
The side of Leiter's head was swollen but he was not bleeding. Leiter was lucid throughout the whole ordeal and even called Marlins radio broadcaster Jon Sciambi from the hospital during the game to let him know he was fine.
"I'll be fine. I have a little headache and a little bruise about a half-inch above my temple," Leiter said. "I saw it [the ball] and I thought I had it. It was knuckling a little bit and I missed it. I went black, but I didn't black out. But it was very dark."
"Hopefully everything will be fine," Howe said. "He was talking and cracking jokes after awhile. He was very fortunate that he didn't get hit in the eye or break his nose. You're always fearful for a pitcher because he's so close. That ball really gets back in a hurry."
Leiter is slated to start Thursday night in Atlanta and as of Saturday afternoon that hadn't changed. Howe said it all depended on the results of the X-rays and the ensuing examination by Bosco.
"I hope so," Leiter said of starting Thursday, "but if it's still really sore, I won't push it, even if we have to juggle the rotation."
"That's scary, you don't want to see that happen to anybody," said Florida starter Dontrelle Willis said. "Al is a good guy, I hope he's okay."
Leiter, 38, is set to begin his seventh season with the Mets. He went 15-9 last year and has a career mark of 145-112. Leiter is signed through this season but he and the club have a mutual option for 2005.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.