Robert Stephenson hit by liner, leave game; Nick Howard makes debut Doug Gray July 19, 2014 3 Comments Robert Stephenson was cruising along against the Jacksonville Suns through five innings. He had retired 12 of the previous 13 batters heading into the sixth inning and had thrown just 55 pitches. He only made it two pitches into the sixth inning. After a ball to lead off the inning he took a line drive off of the right thigh, just above the knee. The ball rolled towards the first base line, he chased it down and threw the runner out. Then things got scary as he sat on the ground while the trainers, coaches and teammates came over to him. After about 45 seconds he was helped to his feet and he walked off of the field under his own power without much of a sign that he was feeling it. He even had a smile on his face as he got closer to the Blue Wahoos dugout. You never like to see that happen, and it’s not the first time he’s been hit by a comebacker this season, but he walked off on his own and seemed to be ok. He finished with 5.1 innings thrown, 1 earned run on a solo homer, 2 hits, 1 walk and 1 strikeout. To take things in a different direction, Cincinnati Reds 1st round pick from 2014 finally made his professional debut. He has been with the Dayton Dragons for about a week now, but was just activated on Friday afternoon and took the mound for the seventh inning in Beloit last night. He made pretty quick work of the Snappers, getting a 1-2-3 inning with a ground out to third, a fly out to center and a strikeout to end the inning. He was bringing the heat as well. While Beloit doesn’t have a stadium radar gun, broadcaster Tom Nichols talked with scouts between innings and they gave him velocity readings that he tweeted out. 1-2-3 inning for Nick Howard. Fastball averaged 95-96, topped out at 98 mph. — Dayton Dragons (@DragonsBaseball) July 19, 2014 In case you missed the statement from the Reds, 10 days ago they came out and said that Howard would pitch the 2014 season out of the bullpen before making the transition next year into a starting pitcher. 3 Responses Alan Horn July 19, 2014 Pitcher is a dangerous position to play. It is even worse in Little League and softball because of the lessor distance. Very little reaction time. Doug Gray July 19, 2014 And generally speaking, the pitchers aren’t nearly as athletic and able to react quick enough. As someone who pitched until their sophomore year in high school (my arm was just shot by then… of course, I’d kill a forest animal to have that arm now given that I’ve since wrecked my shoulder), I had a few balls come flying back at me off of the bat. I never took one off of the body though. I caught a few and had a few go off of my glove. Fortunately the hardest hit one was just a little to my glove side and I caught it almost by accident. I moved the glove a little bit, but still, there was very little time for reaction and had the ball been a few inches to me right, it would’ve caught me in the upper arm/chest area. It’s a dangerous position, no doubt. Alan Horn July 19, 2014 Most big league pitchers are at least 6′ 4″. People that size usually don’t move that quickly. I was throwing BP before a semi pro game one Sunday afternoon. My buddy (who hit the ball harder than anyone I have ever seen) hit a ball back at me. It just happened to hit my glove(knocked it off my hand) and deflected. I never saw the ball it was hit so hard(he used a 36″ aluminum bat). If it had not have hit my glove, it would either killed or severely maimed me. I’ll never forget it.