Freese expects to be OK after mild concussion
Cardinals third baseman hit in head by pitch in third inning
MIAMI -- David Freese left Thursday's 7-4 series-opening win over the Marlins with a scary injury, but he doesn't expect to be out of the lineup very long.
The Cardinals third baseman was hit in the head by an 85-mph pitch from Marlins right-hander Clay Hensley and left in the third inning with a mild concussion.
"I feel better [now] than I did [at the time]," Freese said after the game. "I'm a little dizzy, but I think they defined it as a Grade 1 concussion. He got me pretty good on the head, but obviously it wasn't intentional. That's not even a thought in my mind."
Freese, who was 0-for-1 in the game, had worked a full count with the bases loaded and one out in the third inning when Hensley hit him with the ninth pitch of the at-bat. The resulting run made the score 4-3.
"You never want to go out there and hit people, much less hit them in the head in that situation," Hensley said. "It's just frustrating because the lack of control I had tonight could've seriously hurt somebody."
Freese immediately went down in the batter's box as the fans at Sun Life Stadium gasped. Albert Pujols scored from third to give the Cardinals a 4-3 lead but all the attention was on Freese.
"I was just battling trying to get that run in," Freese said. "I was check-swinging at the slider all night and he came with the heater. I checked the tape and [catcher John] Buck was set up away, and it just got away from him. I'm glad I got the run in. It's a tough way to get it done, but it worked out."
A trainer immediately sprinted out to check on Freese and Cardinals manager Tony La Russa also checked on the third baseman.
After a few minutes of laying face down, Freese sat up and eventually walked off under his own power. He was replaced by infielder Daniel Descalso.
"The first 10 seconds or so, I couldn't really see," Freese said. "It stung me pretty good, but I regained it pretty quick and got off the field."
La Russa has been vocal about how hurlers need to be more careful when they pitch inside, and Freese's injury supports his beliefs.
"It's the same story, and who's going to deny it?" La Russa said. "It's just scary, and if you're in the big leagues and you're going to pitch inside, you have to keep the ball down. I'm not trying to take the inside pitch away. A guy lacks command, and these things are happening more and more and guys are paying for it with broken hands or broken faces. We pitch inside as much as anybody, but you've got to get the ball down. If you're in the big leagues, you've got to get the ball down."
Freese holds no ill will toward Hensley and was appreciative that he reached out to make sure he was OK.
"I talked to Clay and he apologized," Freese said. "He was cool. I understand that he didn't have much command of his heater tonight and things like that happen. It meant a lot to hear from him. Obviously he's a great dude, and it was cool that he contacted me."
Hensley, who also hit Matt Holliday with a pitch in the third inning, hopes the Cardinals understand that he was not intentionally throwing at them.
"I think those guys over there would know that I try to go out there and throw strikes," Hensley said. "The ball was getting away from me all night. Like I said, I don't really have an explanation for it. You have to chalk it up to baseball, and unfortunately I caught the short end of the stick with it. I'm glad that Freese is OK over there, and hopefully he's not out too long."
Freese does not anticipate a long recovery from the injury. While he did have a bruise above his left temple, he expects to be back in action soon.
"I'm going to come and see how I feel tomorrow, and go through the routine of trying to get on the bike and see if I can do that and run around," Freese said. "I doubt I'll play tomorrow, but we'll see where it goes. The DL, I don't even think, is a possibility. I already feel better."
David Villavicencio is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.