Walker out with mild concussion
OAKLAND, Calif. — Neil Walker said that minus the headache, he would have felt fine Saturday afternoon.
Minus the hospital band still on his wrist, others might not have known that hours earlier he was sprawled unconscious on the field at Oakland Coliseum.
The Pirates’ second baseman was diagnosed with a mild concussion after colliding with teammate Ryan Church going for a ball in foul territory Friday night, but yesterday he was smiling and even making people laugh.
“(My) first night ever in (Oakland) turns into a nice baseball night for myself, but then ends up in the hospital,” he said. “I don’t think that’s a good night at all.”
Walker, who was a triple shy of hitting for the cycle before the collision, spent the night in the intensive care unit at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center. He underwent a CT scan and was released around 11 a.m. Saturday, and he will return to Pittsburgh on Monday to be examined by team doctors.
There is no timetable for his return.
The Pine-Richland graduate, who was recalled from Triple-A Indianapolis exactly one month earlier, said he was out cold from the time of impact until the trainers reached him, which was probably about a minute.
“I don’t remember getting hit,” Walker said. “I just remember waking up and seeing their team doctor in front of me. But when I got up I felt fine, no dizziness or anything. They asked me some questions and stuff, and I don’t think I would have known the answers to them anyway.”
Minus a headache, soreness where he got hit and some sleep deprivation from the noise and hourly vitals checks at the hospital, he said he felt OK yesterday.
“I think it could have been a lot worse,” he said. “Fortunately, Church has soft knees.”
Before Walker made his appearance in the clubhouse, Church said it was tough to learn that Walker was in the hospital.
“A lot of things went through my mind because I’ve been there; I know what (concussions) are all about, and they’re not fun,” said Church, who had his right knee wrapped in ice Friday after the game and had some stiffness in his right quad yesterday. “I was worried sick all night. Didn’t get too much sleep just thinking about Neil.”
Walker said he wished that wasn’t the case.
“It was just a ball stuck in the triangle between first second and right field,” he said. “I didn’t see him or hear him. I could see (Garrett Jones) out of my peripheral vision, but outside of that, as soon as I went for the ball, that’s the last thing I remember is going for the ball then lights out.
“I don’t know if there’s anything more or less anyone could do, really. It was just one of those things, and fortunately it’s not as bad as it could be.”
Manager John Russell bemoaned Walker’s absence.
“He’s swinging the bat very well and playing pretty good defense, so it stings and it’s unfortunate,” Russell said.
Bobby Crosby played second base in Walker’s absence yesterday, and Ronny Cedeno took over at shortstop. Russell said they wouldn’t evaluate any more long-term replacements until they know more.
“That’s something we don’t need to think about right now until we go through the process,” he said. “We’ll know more after Monday and how he responds through the week with how long he might be out.”
Karen Price is a former freelancer.