It was supposed to be an innocent practice game to help Marlins players prepare for the start of the Grapefruit League season. But it produced a scary incident that left the Marlins’ top star bruised and their top prospect shaken up.
On a back field at Roger Dean Stadium, All-Star right fielder Giancarlo Stanton stepped in Wednesday against hard-throwing prospect Jose Fernandez, the premier matchup of an otherwise unremarkable exercise known as a “simulated game.’’
Fernandez went into his windup. A few seconds later, there was a sickening thud followed by loud gasps from players and fans shocked over what they’d just seen — Stanton getting beaned in the back of the head by a fastball.
The impact spun Stanton around and sent his helmet flying toward the backstop. But he stayed on his feet and walked off the field on his own.
“I wasn’t dizzy. I saw a little grayness, fuzziness on the outside of my eyes. But it’s subsiding now,’’ he said about 20 minutes later in the clubhouse, where an ice pack was wrapped around the rear base of his head.
Stanton, who led the Marlins with 37 home runs in 2012, said the ball struck him “right on the bottom of the head (and) high neck area.’’ He was taken to a local hospital for precautionary X-rays.
Initial reports from team trainers showed no signs of a concussion, manager Mike Redmond said.
“He’s a tough guy. It didn’t even drop him,’’ Redmond said.
Fernandez, 20, faced one more batter and left the game, still visibly shaken. He was consoled for a few minutes by pitching coordinator Wayne Rosenthal, then walked back to the clubhouse.
He immediately sought out Stanton and apologized.
“When I asked him how he’s doing, he laughed,’’ Fernandez said. “He said he’s fine. I told him I’m sorry. You know more than anybody (that) nobody is trying to hit anybody, same team. He just laughed and said, ‘Bro, it’s OK. It’s baseball. It happens.’ ’’
Fernandez, the Marlins’ first-round pick in 2011, estimated the ball was going more than 95 miles per hour when it slipped out of his hand.