One instant, Kirby Puckett was at bat, looking for his 100th run batted in. The next, he was sprawled in the dirt, blood pouring from his nose and mouth.
A Dennis Martinez fastball shattered Puckett's upper jaw during the first inning of the Minnesota Twins' 12-4 loss to the Cleveland Indians on Thursday at Minneapolis.
He will need four to six weeks to recover, and his teammates might need as long.
"I've never seen that much blood on a baseball field--ever," pitcher Frank Rodriguez said. "It was scary."
With a reputation for throwing inside, Martinez started the game by hitting Chuck Knoblauch in the left shoulder. A stolen base and a fly ball followed and Knoblauch was on third when Puckett came to bat.
On a 1-2 count, Puckett reached out to foul off an outside pitch. The next pitch came in high and tight, and Puckett was starting into his swing when the ball slammed into his jaw just above the left corner of his mouth.
Puckett was taken to Fairview-Riverside Hospital, where an oral surgeon stitched cuts inside his mouth. Puckett also had two loose teeth. His jaw probably will heal without having to be wired shut, said team physician Dan Buss.
Puckett had swelling into his sinus passages and will be watched carefully for infection, Buss said. Puckett was released from the hospital Thursday night.
Martinez seemed shaken by the episode. He called Puckett one of his best friends in baseball, and said he considered asking Manager Mike Hargrove to take him out of the game.
"It's the worst I've ever felt in my life," Martinez said. "Because when I knocked him down, it did not hit him in the helmet, it hit him right in the face. I felt like the lowest man in baseball when I was on the mound."
"Genuine American" is Milwaukee's new slogan and, with Assembly members finally agreeing to a new $250-million stadium, the city expects to still have America's pastime to promote.
Milwaukee Brewer President Bud Selig and Republican Gov. Tommy Thompson said they were cautiously optimistic for final approval from the state Senate next week.
A move to sell the Seattle Mariners was deferred for a month as politicians scrambled to devise a new way to pay for a $325-million retractable-roof stadium.
All-but-final vote totals compiled Thursday showed a King County sales-tax increase to provide the lion's share of the funds failing, 246,500 to 245,418.
John Charles, county elections chief, said it was unlikely any more ballots from the election Sept. 19 would arrive before the results are certified today, or that there would be a recount.
Anticipating the outcome, Gov. Mike Lowry already had called a meeting today with other officials to consider alternate financing options, such as a lottery or revised tax plan.