Veteran outfielder Justin Upton’s Seattle Mariners debut ended abruptly Friday night when he was hit in the helmet by a pitch.
Upton, who had been called up from Class AAA Tacoma (Washington) earlier in the day and was starting in left field in his season debut, was facing Los Angeles Angels pitcher Michael Lorenzen in the fifth inning when he was struck by a 90.6 mph pitch .
He went down but eventually was able to walk off the field after manager Scott Servis and a trainer checked on him.
Servais said after the game that Upton seemed to be OK. He was hopeful Upton could play in the Mariners’ doubleheader Saturday.
“He was conscious and talking the whole time,” Servais said. “I greeted him after we came in after the game, and I’ll text and check in with him tomorrow morning. Right now, we’ll see if maybe he can be our DH tomorrow. Wait and see how it works out.”
Dylan Moore came in as a pinch runner.
After the game, Lorenzen put the blame for the incident at the feet of Major League Baseball.
“I don’t know what Major League Baseball is playing with these baseballs, but that fully slipped out of my hand,” Lorenzen said, via SoCal News Group’s Jeff Fletcher. “It’s just crazy man. As a kid you think Major League Baseball is the greatest thing ever, and you get here and you realize, what are they doing? All of a sudden they’re going to change the baseballs…
“These baseballs are slick. They did get someone hurt. So that’s on Major League Baseball for sure. I don’t know what’s going on. These baseball’s are straight out of the package.”
Upton, a four-time All-Star and the No. 1 overall pick of the 2005 draft, had been released by the Angels on April 8 and signed a one-year deal with the Mariners on May 21.
He was hitting .200 in the minors at the time of his recall.
Upton, who was beginning his 16th MLB season on Friday, had hit .215, .204 and .211 in his final three seasons with the Angels. He’s a career .262 hitter with 324 home runs and 1,000 RBI.
He grounded out and struck out in his first two at-bats with the Mariners.
Contributing: Associated Press