Ump Hirschbeck hit in facemask, exits

Ump Hirschbeck hit in facemask, exits

PITTSBURGH -- Veteran umpire John Hirschbeck was struck in the facemask by a warmup pitch early in the Brewers' 4-3 win over the Pirates on Thursday at PNC Park and exited a half-inning later after consulting with members of the Pirates' medical staff.

Official word from the Pirates is that Hirschbeck was experiencing "concussion-like symptoms."

"I felt so bad. He's a nice guy," Brewers catcher Gregg Zaun said. "I really felt bad about it, too, because it was tough for me to keep the ball from hitting him in the face. But I didn't see it. He understands. He knows it."

The 55-year-old crew chief was crouched behind the plate as Brewers left-hander Chris Narveson threw his warmup pitches before the bottom of the first inning when one offering got away. It glanced off Zaun's glove and struck Hirschbeck in the mask.

"I couldn't see it. In fact, he and I were just talking about it, literally just talking about it, how it was so tough to see," Zaun said. "And Narvy threw me a warmup pitch in a spot where I just completely lost sight of it. It came out of a white building behind the batter's eye and we were already staring at the glare talking about it. And the next pitch he threw me -- bam, right in the mask."

Hirschbeck doubled over and was tended to by athletic trainers, but he remained in the game for Narveson's 34-pitch, three-run first inning. After the final out, he left the game and was replaced behind the plate by first-base umpire James Hoye.

"It's hard. I know how much it can ring your bell when you get squared like that, it can make you a little dizzy for awhile," Zaun said. "But with these head injuries and the way they are nowadays, the lingering effects that seem to be plaguing our game now, it's better to get things checked out right away."

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.