tampabay.com

Wayward golf ball bruises eye - and ego

Pitching coach Jim Hickey needs 11 stitches after an unusual accident.

By MARC TOPKIN
Published June 20, 2007


PHOENIX - As if Rocco Baldelli's tweaked hamstring and Edwin Jackson's cramped finger weren't enough to leave the Devil Rays feeling bad, pitching coach Jim Hickey on Tuesday was sporting 11 stitches around a bruised right eye after being hit by a golf ball.

Making it worse, it was his own ball.

Hickey was playing the exclusive Phoenician course early Tuesday when, using a pitching wedge, he hit the ball off the curb of a cart path that struck him "right square" in the eye.

"This is kind of embarrassing, " Hickey said. "Twenty years of playing and I never broke a bone or got a stitch, and this happens on a frigging golf course."

Fortunately, Hickey said, his foursome included assistant trainer Paul Harker, who immediately stopped what was considerable bleeding and arranged for Hickey to be seen immediately by the D'backs' ophthalmologist.

"Thank God I was playing with Paul Harker, medical expert, " said Hickey, who wore dark glasses for Tuesday's night game.

The incident occurred on the fourth hole as Hickey was following the rules.

"(The ball) was actually on the cart path and I moved it off, and instead of moving it toward the hole the rules say you have to move away from the hole and I did, " he said. "I tried to pop up a little pitching wedge, and it didn't pop up. Well, it did, after it hit the curb."

EDWIN OKAY: Jackson said the cramping from his right index to his forearm that led the Rays to take him out of Monday's game was nothing to be concerned about because he'd had it before and will make his next start.

But manager Joe Maddon said he didn't know for sure if that was the case, and further that he didn't know when that next start would be since the Rays are off Thursday and were considering skipping Jackson.

UPTON UPDATE: 2B/CF B.J. Upton is feeling better - "like he has a leg again, " Maddon said - but his strained left quad is not healed enough for him to come off the disabled list when eligible Sunday. Because he likely will need several days of minor-league games to regain his timing, it could be at least the middle of next week before he is ready to return to the Rays.

TRADEWINDS: According to Gotham Baseball magazine's Web site, the Yankees are rumored to be interested in slugging 1B Carlos Pena and could make pitcher Sean Henn available, though not bay area product Tyler Clippard. If the Yankees can't get Pena they could pursue Ty Wigginton.

GOOD SIGN: Ninth-round draft pick 2B Cody Cipriano played a key role in Cal Irvine's College World Series record 13-inning victory over Cal-State Fullerton on Monday, battling through a 14-pitch at-bat with eight consecutive foul balls before hitting a tying homer in the seventh. He later scored the winning run.

POOL TIME WITH TODD: FSN is running an online poll (msn.foxsports.com/mlb/story/6939084) on what style of swimsuit broadcaster Todd Kalas should wear (wings, vest, '20s, or Oh, My! in Borat-style) for his dip in the Chase Field pool today.

MISCELLANY: OF Elijah Dukes did not start for a seventh straight game, but was a ninth-inning defensive replacement. ... Wigginton's 13-game hit streak is the longest by a Ray since Carl Crawford went 13 July 7-22, 2004; the team record is 18 by Quinton McCracken in 1998. ... RHP Josh Butler (5-1, 2.33 at Class A Columbus) was promoted to advanced Class A Vero Beach.