Blue Jays outfielder Kevin Pillar suffered an injury on Saturday’s game against the Red Sox that could have been fatal. He wasn’t hit in the head with a ball or a bat. He didn’t suffer any kind of head injury. He sprained a joint. Fortunately, the direction of the sprain resulted in an injury that will resolve with rehabilitation. If it had happened differently, it could have been deadly.
Sporting News explains that the injury happened in the bottom of the third inning. Brock Holt hit a fly ball into Pillar’s territory, and he fully extended his right arm in a dive to make the catch. When he did, he landed on his right shoulder. He grabbed his arm when he made a throw to second base for a double play that ended the inning.
Pillar told SportNet that he knew something wasn’t right, but expected it to be something easily fixed.
“I knew something didn’t feel right. I didn’t know it was to the point where I wasn’t going to be able to play. I really just felt like I landed on my shoulder. My neck was a little stiff. It was something I felt like I could run up [to the clubhouse], have them move my neck around a little bit, and continue to play.”
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) July 14, 2018
The extent of his injury became more evident when he was replaced in the batting lineup when Toronto returned to plate in the fourth. He was taken to the hospital for x-rays and a CT scan to evaluate his injury.
Sunday news broke that the Jays had placed 29-year-old Pillar on the 10-day disabled list for what is being described as an “emergency situation.” He had suffered a sternoclavicular (SC) joint sprain, an injury that can prove fatal. SportNet‘s Arden Zwelling tweeted that the SC joint connects the collarbone to the chest wall. Pillar sprained his forward, pushing it through some ligaments. Although painful with a long recovery period, spraining this joint forward is far better than spraining it backward. A backward sprain could have cut off his airway, arteries, and nerves that run down his arm. If he had survived, it would have required surgery to realign everything and a hamstring graft to stabilize the SC joint. As it is, he will undergo rehabilitation and will be re-evaluated for returning to play in three weeks. He could miss as much as six weeks of play. In the meantime, he has been seen walking around the clubhouse in a sling intended to stabilize the joint.
Kevin Pillar has missed only one game out of 93 this season and is the fourth best hitter on the Toronto Blue Jays team. He currently has 37 RBIs and eight homeruns on his 2018 season record.