Ibanez: Lip service

Raul Ibanez showed up at The Trop tonight about an hour before first pitch sporting a lower lip that looked like it had been run through a meat grinder.

Ibanez's close encounter with a steel bench in the Yankees' dugout on Sunday, the result of trying to avoid being hit by a foul ball, left him with a broken front tooth and a split lip that required eight stitches to close. But most grotesque of all, the damage to the lip wasn't caused so much by the bench as by the tooth; the oral surgeon who sewed Ibanez up found the broken half of it buried in his lower lip.

"There were three pieces of the tooth inside my lip, and the doctor had to do three scans to find them,'' Ibanez said. "That part was pretty cool.''

The not-so-cool parts? The trip to a neurologist this morning to determine whether or not Ibanez had suffered a concussion; the probability that for the next few days at least, he will be taking all his meals through a straw; and that first post-suture smile, when he learned the true meaning of the saying, "It only hurts when I laugh.''

Otherwise, Ibanez said he felt fine, and would have been capable of playing tonight had the Rays started a right-hander. As it was, he was fit to pinch hit in the ninth inning, and hit the ball hard off closer Fernando Rodney , but on the ground and right at first baseman Carlos Pena for the first out of the inning.

"I should have taken to ball off my face,'' Ibanez said ruefully. "Next time I will.''