Iwamura likely headed to disabled list
Second baseman carried off on cart in eighth inning Sunday
MIAMI -- The Rays lost a game, a seven-game winning streak at Land Shark Stadium and their status as an above-.500 team on Sunday.
But their biggest loss was their second baseman, Akinori Iwamura, who was barreled into by rookie Chris Coghlan while trying to turn an inning-ending double play in the eighth inning and was eventually carted off the field after sustaining a left knee injury.
After the game, the status of Iwamura was still a bit hazy, but manager Joe Maddon said he'll likely be landing on the 15-day disabled list.
For now, Iwamura will be in St. Petersburg, Fla. -- where he was driven to after the game -- to get an MRI.
Through a translator, the 30-year-old from Japan said it was the most painful moment he's had while in the U.S., but would wait until the MRI to gauge whether or not he'll be out for an extended period of time.
"He's not feeling really good right now," Maddon said about Iwamura, who was in a brace. "Obviously, when you get hit like that, you're going to be in a lot of pain. And once he sat himself up, he was able to gather himself.
"I think the initial shot probably hurt a lot, but again, I don't know what it is, and I just know that we're going to have a setback, and then do the MRI thing, and if I had to guess, he's going to be on the DL."
With one out in a tied game in the bottom of the eighth, the Marlins had runners on first and second when Wes Helms hit a tapper back to reliever Dan Wheeler. The right-hander picked it up and fired it to second base, where Iwamura made the forceout. But upon turning to fire the ball to first, he was slid into hard by Coghlan.
Iwamura laid on the ground in agony, and John Baker tried to score from second, but shortstop Jason Bartlett got the ball out of Iwamura's hand and gunned him down at the plate to preserve the 4-4 tie and end the inning.
After that, the Rays players and medical staff -- and eventually the Marlins players who were coming back onto the field -- huddled around Iwamura, who stayed on the ground in pain for several minutes, holding his left leg.
Eventually, Iwamura was carried onto a cart and driven off the field while drawing applause from the 12,839 fans at Land Shark Stadium.
Iwamura did not want to comment on whether or not he felt it was a hard slide, but shortly thereafter, he was greeted outside the Rays' clubhouse by an apologetic Coghlan.
"I saw Wes tapping it back to the pitcher," Coghlan explained. "Being in the situation, I just knew I had to try to break up the double play. I felt awful that he got injured. I would never try to injure somebody. I'll be praying for him.
"I don't think it was an illegal slide or anything like that," the 23-year-old added.
Maddon said he wasn't sure what to think of the slide by Coghlan -- a former second baseman and East Lake High product.
"I couldn't really tell," Maddon said. "I know it was hard, and if anything, I just thought it might have been a little bit late. But I don't think there was an intent to hurt anybody. We play hard baseball all the time ourselves."
Added third baseman Evan Longoria: "I thought it was a clean slide, initially. We have mixed opinions in here. Some guys watched the replay, I didn't watch the replay, so I don't know exactly. But just from my initial reaction and seeing the play happen, I thought it was clean and that [Iwamura] kind of just got stuck in a bad position."
Maddon said he is undecided about his current options at second base, where Ben Zobrist, Willy Aybar and recent callup Reid Brignac are all possibilities.
In his second year in the Majors last season, the lefty-hitting Iwamura batted .274 with six home runs, 48 RBIs, eight stolen bases and 91 runs scored while playing solid defense at second base.
"It's a big loss," Longoria said. "We had a few setbacks last year with myself and Carl [Crawford], so the other guys in the lineup are just going to have to step up a little bit and try to pick up the slack. Definitely, he's a big loss over there, and wherever he was hitting in the lineup, it will be a tough spot to fill."
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.