Soriano released from hospital
Mariners relieved to hear full recovery expected
SEATTLE -- Rafael Chaves wasn't passing off some tired sporting cliché on Wednesday when he talked to reporters about his concerns over the health of pitcher Rafael Soriano.
"It hit us really hard," the Mariners pitching coach said of the incident in Tuesday's game in which Soriano was hit behind the right ear by a line drive and received a concussion. "We're all family."
Soriano and the Mariners family got terrific news on Wednesday afternoon, when the pitcher was discharged from Harborview Medical Center less than a day after he was felled by a ball off the bat of the Angels' Vladimir Guerrero. Soriano passed a series of tests that determined he didn't have a fracture or lingering effects from being hit.
"At this time, Rafael is doing well," Seattle team physician Edward Khalfayan said. "He's had a second CT scan that looked good. We're not concerned that he has a brain injury other than a concussion. We're expecting him to recover from this injury and not have any permanent residuals from this."
A decision has not yet been made if Soriano will pitch again this season. The Mariners don't have a timetable for his return. Soriano is 1-2 with a 2.25 ERA in 53 games and has flourished in his role as a setup pitcher for closer J.J. Putz.
The 26-year-old Soriano will be monitored by the Mariners' medical staff over the next 10-14 days and will be reevaluated by Richard Ellenbogen, chief of neurosurgery at Harborview, in about two weeks.
"The things that would be looked at are symptoms of a concussion, headache, dizziness and problems with vision," Khalfayan said. [Recovery] is an individual thing. We have no way of predicting how he's going to recover."
The news of Soriano's improved condition was embraced inside the clubhouse before the Mariners played the Angels in the final game of a three-game series at Safeco Field -- the same clubhouse that not a day before had been eerily hushed following Tuesday's game.
"So far, so good," said Seattle manager Mike Hargrove, who late Tuesday visited Soriano in the hospital along with general manager Bill Bavasi, team president Chuck Armstrong and a handful of others. "That's everyone's worst nightmare. I saw him last night, and he seemed OK."
After an X-ray and an initial CT scan on Tuesday, Soriano had another CT scan on Wednesday as well as physical therapy tests administered by Ellenbogen to check his balance and ability to walk. The second CT scan showed "no worsening of his condition," according to Khalfayan.
"His headache is much better," Khalfayan said. "He's in good spirits. He's a bit tired, but for the day after an injury like that, he's doing very well. Overall, I think that Rafael is lucky. It could have been a lot worse."
That's the sentiment that was shared inside the clubhouse where teammates -- especially pitchers -- marveled at how Soriano escaped greater harm and pondered the question of why incidents like these don't happen more often.
"You're 60 feet away. ... It's surprising it doesn't happen more," Seattle reliever George Sherrill said. "There's really nothing you can do. You can't practice for it. And you don't want to rattle brains. He did the best he could do to turn his head."
Chaves, Seattle's first-year pitching coach, was especially shaken after watching one of his pitchers -- and, really, one of his friends -- injured so frighteningly.
After all, it was Chaves who in 1998 -- his first year as a coach with Class A Peoria of the Arizona League -- spent most of that season convincing Soriano to ditch his job as an outfielder and consider pitching.
Soriano did and was enjoying a prosperous season for the Mariners when Guerrero, the Angels' slugger, lined a pitch up the middle that hit hard off the side of Soriano's head.
"I've never seen anything like it," said Chaves, who has been in professional baseball as a player, coach and manager since 1986.
Soriano got the first out of the eighth inning and then left a fastball out over the plate to Guerrero, who made solid contact, sending the fastball up the middle. Soriano turned his head just before impact and then fell to the grass. The ball ricocheted nearly all the way to the Angels dugout.
Soriano had movement in all limbs and never lost consciousness.
"I'm surprised something like that doesn't happen more," Chaves said. "Pitchers have bullets coming at them."
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.