Cruz leaves game (CT scan fine)

Nelson Cruz took a pitch to his helmet on Thursday afternoon by Rays pitcher Alex Cobb and exited the game in the bottom of the fifth inning, but appears to be just fine after a CT scan came back clean.

“Take a look and see how he feels tomorrow, but he feels pretty good,” manager Buck Showalter said of Cruz, who was hit by his left ear. “It cracked the helmet.”

“It sounded hopefully worse than it was. He seems to be fine, I’m going to talk to him when I get up there…like to say we dodged a bullet, but he didn’t. It’s a little early, but I think he’s going to be fine.”

Cruz was able to walk off the field by himself and was fortunate in that it was an off speed pitch from Cobb. He was replaced by Delmon Young and walked to the training room with head athletic trainer Richie Bancells where he was further examined before being taken to a local hospital for a scan, per MLB protocol.

“I don’t want to make excuses, but it slipped a little bit,” Cobb said. “It was a curveball and just got away from me.”

“Not just me, I don’t think any pitcher wants to hit a guy in the head. It was a curveball, you know. If anything, any pitch you could hit him with, you’d prefer it to be that. It still stinks to see a guy go down like that. I’ve heard he’s OK, so that’s good.”

Cruz is 11-for-39 with six doubles and four RBIs this spring and his availability for Opening Day doesn’t seem to be in jeopardy.

“I’m not projecting that,” Showalter said. “we will see what the next few days bring.”

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