By now, we have all seen footage or heard of the unfortunate incident where Aroldis Chapman was hit off the head by a line drive from Salvador Perez. Chapman was in obvious pain, kicking his legs before being carted off the field, where he somehow managed to escape major injury. As frightening as the incident was, Chapman only has a mild concussion and will need a metal plate in his head where he fractured the bone around his left eye socket and nose.
While most of the focus was naturally on Chapman, it may be worth keeping an eye on Perez as well in the aftermath of this incident. Perez was noticeably, and understandably, distraught after seeing what happened with Chapman. It is possible that he, in some way, feels responsible for what happened, since he was the one to hit the line drive that struck Chapman in the head.
There have been situations before when a player was not the same after being involved in such a frightening incident. Back in 1984, Dickie Thon was considered a potential future Hall of Fame player. Then, facing while Mike Torrez, Thon was struck in the face with a pitch, ruining what could have been a truly special career. Meanwhile Torrez, even though he was reaching the end of his career, was never able to overcome the feeling that he was responsible for Thon having such a catastrophic injury. He ended up being released by the Mets on June 22, made two more appearances with the Oakland A’s, and was out of baseball by the end of August.
Obviously, there are major differences. Mike Torrez was likely to see his career come to an end soon anyway, being 37 years old when the 1984 season started. Salvador Perez, meanwhile, is just seeing his career truly begin. Coming off an All-Star season and a Gold Glove award, Perez has his future in front of him. Yet, incidents such as these can stick with a player, causing them to become tentative so as to avoid causing that same type of situation from occurring again.
One never knows how someone will react from being involved in such situations. In most cases, both players involved when a pitcher is hit off the head with a comebacker continue their careers with minimal problems. When a player is unable to come back, more often than not, it is the pitcher who was struck with the batted ball. However, as was the case with Torrez, sometimes the player that causes the injury has problems coming back as well.
Chances are, Salvador Perez will come back and continue to perform for the Royals. Yet, one never can tell if that line drive will stay in the back of his mind for the rest of his career.