Twins' Blackburn bloodied by line drive to his face

MINNEAPOLIS -- His face just hit by a line drive, Nick Blackburn flung his arms out and flopped on the turf in front of the mound.

The Minnesota Twins feared the worst, and so did Bobby Abreu -- whose powerful swing produced that liner with one out in the fifth inning of Sunday's game between Minnesota and the New York Yankees.

But the rookie right-hander quickly rose to his feet and walked off the field on his own, a towel pressed to his face to keep the blood from spurting out of his nose. The damage was minimal: a bruised nose and upper lip.

"We're very lucky," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said after Minnesota's 5-1 win.

Blackburn knew it.

"It's a scary situation. It's scary to see someone else get hit, so it definitely makes you a little leery of being out there," he said. "But it happens. It's part of the game. Everything turned out all right. I'll be able to get out there and get back on the mound."

Abreu winced as soon as he broke from the batter's box, putting his hands to the sides of his helmet as he ran to first for an infield single. He looked shaken while standing on the bag as Brian Bass warmed up, and again in the dugout after the inning.

Blackburn and Abreu spoke after the game. The Yankees' right fielder was relieved.

"I feel good right now because there's nothing wrong with him," Abreu said. "I knew I hit it hard, but I didn't know where it hit him. I was kind of like -- I didn't know what to do."

The impact was lessened because Blackburn bent backward to try to dodge the ball. It grazed off his glove before hitting the right side of his nose, which was bruised and swollen afterward. X-rays showed no broken bones, though, and the only other evidence was an extremely puffed-up lip.

Blackburn didn't lose consciousness, and his teeth stayed in tact.

"That ball comes off that bat so quick, you can't really get a feel for it unless you're on the field," catcher Mike Redmond said. "For him just to react as quick as he did, just to get a piece of it, saved him some teeth for sure."

After using all seven relievers in a 12-inning loss on Saturday night, the Twins were hoping for a long outing from Blackburn. He threw 71 pitches and left with a 3-1 lead. Bass got the last two outs of the inning.

Assured that Blackburn was all right after the game, Gardenhire lightened the mood a bit.

"Blackburn pitched his lip off," he said, later adding about his fellow Oklahoma native: "The tough Okie that he is, I knew he would get up. It was just a matter of time."

Blackburn acknowledged, though, that he might be a little nervous the next time he takes the mound.

"You can't let it bother you. You've got to go out and keep pitching the way you would before like nothing ever happened," he said. "I might be a little gun-shy. I don't think I will, but we'll just have to see. That'll be something that gets answered the next time I get out there."