Twins' outfielder Gomez carted off field, suffers back injury

CLEVELAND -- Carlos Gomez was shaken, sore and scared.

Minnesota's center fielder sustained a lower back injury when he crashed into the padded wall while making a spectacular catch in the first inning of Friday night's game against the Cleveland Indians.

After a long run, Gomez jumped as he neared the wall and caught Ben Francisco's drive before slamming into it on his right side. He crumpled on the warning track and spent several minutes writhing in pain before he was immobilized on a backboard, loaded on a cart and transported to Lutheran Hospital.

Gomez returned to Progressive Field about 10 minutes after the Twins lost 5-4. He felt fortunate to be back.

"I never had so much pain in my life," said Gomez, who walked gingerly into the clubhouse. "When it happened, I was scared. I didn't know what I did, but I thought I broke something. I ran into it full speed."

He said an MRI exam was negative.

Gomez was acquired along with three pitchers in the trade that sent Johan Santana to the New York Mets on Feb. 2. Gomez came in batting .248 with five homers, 33 RBIs and a team-high 21 stolen bases.

He was replaced in center by Denard Span, who moved over from right. Moments later, Span spookily crashed into the wall only feet from where Gomez hit it while trying to catch Kelly Shoppach's shot. Span couldn't hold on as he made contact and Shoppach wound up with a two-run double to put Cleveland ahead 4-0.

Span limped back to his position and stayed in the game.

"Span hit the wall hard too," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "There's a little bit of an issue on his groin, but he'll be OK."

Indians manager Eric Wedge was relieved to hear Gomez was OK.

"That was scary," he said. "He's so athletic and that was something to see him go after that with no fear."