Cruz fine after being hit in helmet, removed from game

SARASOTA, Fla. - Orioles designated hitter Nelson Cruz came out of tonight’s game in the bottom of the fourth inning after being hit on the left side of the batting helmet by a pitch from Rays starter Alex Cobb.

Cruz dropped to his knees but quickly stood up as head athletic trainer Richie Bancells and manager Buck Showalter ran out of the dugout.

Cruz walked to the clubhouse with Bancells as fans gave him an ovation. Bancells kept a hand on Cruz to steady him, but he appeared to be fine.

Cobb threw a breaking ball to Cruz, but the sound of it slamming off his helmet easily could be heard up in the press box. So could the collective gasp coming from the stands.

The helmet came flying off Cruz’s head, adding to the drama.

Cruz was batting with one out and none on in the fourth. The game is tied 1-1 after Evan Longoria homered off Ubaldo Jimenez in the top of the inning.

Cobb, you may recall, hit Reimold on the side of the face with a fastball during an exhibition game in Port Charlotte in 2012.

Cobb struck out 12 Orioles in seven innings in Saturday’s game in Port Charlotte.

Cruz is 11-for-39 with six doubles and four RBIs this spring.

Update: The Rays took a 2-1 lead in the fifth on Logan Forsythe’s single and stolen base, a wild pitch and Yunel Escobar’s sacrifice fly.

Nick Markakis has singled and doubled tonight and is 16-for-44 (.364) with six doubles this spring.

Update II: Cruz was taken to a local hospital for a precautionary CT scan, and the team says he is fine.

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