Collision, stitches part of Coats' MLB debut

Collision, stitches part of Coats' MLB debut

DETROIT -- It was the best of times and the most painful of times for Jason Coats during Detroit's 7-4 victory over the White Sox on Saturday afternoon at Comerica Park.

Coats, 26, made his Major League debut, starting in left field for the visitors with his wife, Bradleigh, and his mom, Janie, in the stands. He walked against Tigers starter Mike Pelfrey in the second, was hit by a pitch in the fourth and then popped out to catcher James McCann in the sixth.

There was no fourth at-bat for Coats.

As he was tracking a long fly ball from Miguel Cabrera in the bottom of the seventh, center fielder J.B. Shuck's left shoulder collided directly with Coats' face as they converged to make the play. White Sox manager Robin Ventura and head athletic trainer Herm Schneider ran out to left-center to check on Coats, who had moments earlier held on to the baseball and had the presence of mind to throw the ball back in.

The collision caused a laceration in Coats' mouth that required five stitches and left him as day to day. Tests for a concussion turned out negative.

"It's not what I wanted, but I'm still happy I got to go out there today, and it kind of stinks I had to come out of the game, but I feel fine," Coats said. "I should be good to go. No problems.

"I was more just dazed a little bit. I did some tests back there, and there's nothing wrong. Everything is coherent, no problems. It was just a little pain. I had a pretty good cut below my teeth, but otherwise I'm fine. I just felt like I got knocked on the chin a little bit."

Cabrera's drive was "in the middle of no-man's land," per Coats, and the crowd's roar as the ball carried made it impossible for him to communicate with Shuck.

"We both went to the ball," Coats said. "It was one of those ones that was going to fall in between. I'm happy I caught it and got it back in, so that's all that matters, but a little bit better communication would have avoided [the collision]."

"He gets here ready to play, then he gets hit [by a pitch], and then runs into an outfielder," Ventura said. "Both of them are OK at this point."

Prior to the contest, Coats praised hitting coach Todd Steverson and assistant hitting coach Greg Sparks for helping him stay steady during an outstanding Spring Training and equally strong start for Triple-A Charlotte. He also thanked his wife and mother for standing by him during this entire journey, beginning as a 29th-round pick of the White Sox in the 2012 Draft.

That journey ran up to Charlotte manager Julio Vinas delivering the news of his callup Friday evening.

"I'm not a very emotional person, but when he told me that, I broke out in the biggest smile I think I've had in a long time," said Coats, who was hitting .335 for the Knights at the time of his promotion. "It was probably since getting married to my wife, seeing her walk down the aisle."

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.