During the bottom of the 2nd inning of tonight's Indians/Rangers game, Cleveland right-hander Paul Byrd hit Gerald Laird on what appeared to be either his left hand or wrist. Laird went down immediately, screaming in pain and rolling around on the ground. Trainer Jamie Reed came out to help him off the field; Gerald stumbled as he headed towards the dugout, a result of what I can only imagine as a tremendous amount of pain.
Needless to say, Laird's likely out for at least six weeks, and will probably miss the remainder of the season. There's no doubt that his freak injury (torn ligament in left thumb) on May 20th, 2004 has had a serious negative impact on his major league career; by the time he was activated on July 24th, Rod Barajas was firmly entrenched as the Rangers starting catcher, and would remain so through the end of 2006.
To be sure, Gerald hasn't had a real great season thus far at the plate, batting .233/.291/.349 in 275 AB. But Laird was in the midst of a five-game hitting streak coming into tonight's game, and finally seemed to be in a bit of a groove at the plate. Bye-bye to that.
I know that neither this or the Sosa beanball were intentional, but that doesn't mean I'm not seething anyway.
UPDATE: Victor Rojas just reported on KRLD that X-rays came back negative, and that it's merely a bruise.
Judging by Laird's reaction after the HBP, this is nothing short of a miracle. It may still be a few days before he returns to the lineup, though.