DETROIT -- The quiet mood of the Tigers clubhouse after Monday's 8-3 loss to the A's had more to do with concern for reliever Jeff Ferrell, who was struck in the head by a Ryon Healy line drive in the eighth inning.
The initial news was encouraging. While Ferrell was taken to a nearby hospital for a CT scan to check for a possible fracture, manager Brad Ausmus said he was alert and responsive, and was able to tell the team's medical staff exactly where the ball hit him.
"Initially, the signs are actually pretty good," Ausmus said. "He'll be put in the concussion protocol, but he was responsive and very alert the entire time. Precautionary CT scan just to make sure, but we're optimistic that he'll be fine."
It's one of the worst nightmares for a pitcher, a line drive hit hard enough that there's no time to get out of the way. Healy's liner had a 102.6-mph exit velocity according to Statcast™, right at Ferrell's head. But while Ferrell didn't have time to duck, he was able to turn his head in time to take the impact off the right side of his skull.
"It happened so quick," catcher James McCann said. "I didn't really know exactly where it got him. I knew he was able to turn his head and it didn't get him in the front of the face, which is a blessing."
Amazingly, Ferrell stayed on his feet after the ball bounced off his head and ended up near first base. He was clearly shaken, but walked towards the Tigers' dugout. Head athletic trainer Kevin Rand and assistant trainer Chris McDonald met him halfway and led him down the steps toward the clubhouse and training room.
"It hit him pretty flush," Ausmus said. "There was a little bit of blood, just kind of above and behind his right ear. But he was responsive from the get-go, as soon as we got out there. There's no question, a line drive to the head is about as scary as it gets in the game."
Ferrell's teammates could only watch.
"It's something that brings life into perspective," second baseman Ian Kinsler said. "We're just playing a game. To see him walk off under his own power, I think, was somewhat comforting. He got down the stairs fine, from what I saw. It's always a scary moment for both teams. Hopefully he's doing all right."
Said McCann: "All the reports I've heard is that he's walking on his own power, he made it up the stairs on his own, he was alert. Thoughts and prayers for him."
Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.