Scary doesn’t even begin to describe what it was like watching the injury suffered by Lowell Spinners pitcher Brian Johnson in the opener of the Futures at Fenway doubleheader on Saturday.
Johnson, who was Boston’s first-round pick (31st overall) in this year’s draft, was struck in the face by a line drive off the bat of Hudson Valley’s Joey Pickard one pitch into the first inning.
“Unfortunately, it hit him flush in the (left) eye socket,” Lowell pitching coach Paul Abbott said. “He didn’t get a glove on it or anything. It’s a scary thing to see. We don’t know exactly yet how severe (the injury is). I know he’s at a hospital undergoing some tests. They’ll check everything with head trauma as well as his cheekbone. It was a flush shot.”
After “checking everything,” it was determined that Johnson suffered multiple orbital fractures to the left side of his face. But, fortunately, there wasn’t any sign of a concussion.
Johnson, who received the 2012 John Olerud Award as the best two-way player in the country last spring at Florida, only had pitched in three games encompassing 5 1/3 innings but had yet to allow a run. Still, he already had made an indelible impression on the Spinners.
“You’re with these kids for a period of time and you get to know them and get to know their character,” Abbott said. “He’s a great, great kid. After it happened, it’s a scary thing. He’s a tough, tough kid. But he took a heckuva shot.”
Hudson Valley held off the Spinners, 6-5.
Time running out on PawSox
Pawtucket began play Saturday against Buffalo trailing International League North Division leader Scranton/Wilkes-Barre by three games.
Moreover, the PawSox – after losing 2-0 to the Bisons – are now 4-7 in their last 11 games and have lost three of those seven games by two or fewer runs. If the defending division-champion PawSox continue playing at this pace they’ll be spectators when the Governors’ Cup playoffs commence in September.
“Tonight was an example of how we have to pitch better,” manager Arnie Beyeler said. “But the guys are working hard and playing hard.
“We’ve lost some players so that’s going to give some guys out there an opportunity to step up. We’re going to have to get some guys in the middle of the lineup to drive in some runs and pick up for (Mauro) Gomez, (Alex) Hassan and (Ryan) Kalish. Hopefully, some of these guys will be back and swinging the bat sometime soon.
“But it’s a team thing,” Beyeler added. “We’re just going to keep grinding it out and see where we are on September 1.”
Fenway Park wasn’t exactly foreign territory for three Spinners. Catcher Roberto Reyes is from Lynn, Mass; outfielder/DH Zach Kapstein, the nephew of Boston Senior Advisor Jeremy Kapstein, is from Tiverton, R.I.; and third baseman Matt Gedman from Framingham, Mass. is the son of former Boston catcher Rich Gedman.