CLEVELAND | Outfielder Mitch Maier offered a smile and a quip Wednesday night upon returning to the Royals’ clubhouse after being diagnosed with three broken bones on the right side of his face after being hit with a pitch.
"Guess I should have got the first one down," he said to a cluster of concerned teammates as he pressed an ice bag to his eye.
It broke the mood.
Maier will be placed on the disabled list before Thursday afternoon’s series finale against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field. Joey Gathright will be recalled from his rehab assignment at Class AAA Omaha and activated from the disabled list.
Maier suffered the injury while trying to execute a sacrifice bunt in the fifth inning of Wednesday’s 8-5 loss to the Indians. He fouled off the first attempt — which provided fodder for his quip.
The Royals had no outs with runners on first and second when the second pitch from Cleveland starter Zach Jackson stayed inside and struck Maier flush on the cheek.
"The pitch just got away," Jackson said. "I was trying to throw a cutter down and away."
Maier went down but quickly sat up and pressed a towel to his nose, which was pouring blood. His quick reaction led everyone to think the ball had clipped the ear flap of his helmet before striking his face.
An examination at nearby Lutheran Hospital revealed three non-displaced fractures: to the cheek bone, to the orbital floor beneath the eye and to the zygomatic bone.
No immediate surgery is required, but Maier will continue to be evaluated. All initial tests indicted no problems with his eyesight — beyond the right eye being swollen shut.
His sense of humor was also intact.