ST. PETERSBURG -- Batted balls have taken their toll on the Rays this season.
Jeremy Hellickson became the latest victim -- and a repeat victim at that -- when he had to leave Saturday night's 6-2 loss to the Tigers after taking a line drive off his right leg.
Pitching to Prince Fielder with one out in the third, Hellickson delivered a 1-1 fastball that the Tigers first baseman lined back to the mound. The ball struck Hellickson on the outside of his right leg, just below the knee. He was diagnosed with a bruised right shin after X-rays came back negative.
Carlos Pena received the ricochet at first and beat Fielder to the bag for the second out. Austin Jackson scored from third while Hellickson fell to the ground writhing in pain.
"I know it didn't get bone, but it hurt," Hellickson said. "I tried to stay in, but it just went numb. I couldn't really feel anything."
Tigers manager Jim Leyland watched the play and noted, "I was scared to death.
"I don't want to sound gruesome, but I thought for sure he probably broke his leg."
Ron Porterfield, the Rays' head athletic trainer, rushed to the mound accompanied by manager Joe Maddon. After having his leg examined, Hellickson got back to his feet, stepped onto the mound and made several tosses. A short conversation with Maddon ensued before Hellickson left the game.
"He's fine," Maddon said. "Ronnie thinks he's going to be fine, and he should be able to start his next time out. I did not like it, did not like the way he was throwing. I thought he was putting a lot of strain on his shoulder, by watching him throw, and that's what he's coming off of, so I did not want to push that right there. It started to swell up. ... I'm not going to mess with it."
Maddon said Hellickson "did not make a very strong verbal plea," but "he was imploring me with his eyes, but I was looking away."
Hellickson was making his first start since coming off the disabled list with right shoulder inflammation.
J.P. Howell entered the game to take over for Hellickson, who allowed one run on four hits in 2 2/3 innings.
Hellickson has now been on the receiving end of batted balls twice this season.
Former Rays outfielder Delmon Young nailed Hellickson near his left eyebrow while Hellickson threw a bullpen session prior to the Rays' 4-2 win over the Tigers on April 11 in Detroit. In the aftermath of the injury, Hellickson had to jump through a lot of hoops proving that he did not have a concussion, but he did not miss any games.
Rays right-hander Jeff Niemann wasn't as fortunate.
On May 14, Niemann started against Toronto. With two on and one out in the first, Adam Lind hit a line drive off Niemann's right leg. He managed to recover, throw Lind out at first and pitch through the rest of the inning. Cesar Ramos replaced him prior to the start of the second.
Niemann was diagnosed with a small fracture of his right fibula and then fitted with a walking boot, outfitted with crutches and placed on the disabled list.
Jeff Keppinger sustained the oddest injury by a batted ball for the Rays this season during a May 19 loss to Atlanta.
Keppinger was sitting on the bench at the front of the Rays' dugout when Martin Prado fouled a ball in Keppinger's direction and ended up striking the infielder on the big toe of his right foot.
"Wrong place, wrong time," Keppinger said.
Keppinger sustained a broken big toe and missed 29 games while on the disabled list.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.