Konerko says Zaun was having trouble breathing

TORONTO -- Blue Jays catcher Gregg Zaun was kneed in the head and knocked unconscious Sunday while breaking up a double play against the visiting White Sox.

Zaun was sliding into second in the ninth inning when White Sox second baseman Pedro Lopez jumped to make a relay throw to first. Lopez's knee smacked into the side of Zaun's head, which hit the ground, knocking him out cold.

Zaun came to after a few minutes but stayed on his stomach for about 10 minutes. He was fitted with an oxygen mask and braces for his head and neck before being carted off the field and taken to a hospital for tests.

The Blue Jays placed Zaun on the 15-day disabled list with a concussion and said in a statement that he'll be re-evaluated on Monday before being released from the hospital. It is unknown how much time he will miss.

"Any time a player gets hurt, you're concerned," Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi said. "This one, he wasn't moving. ... Once he started moving, you ease up a little bit, and as you get more information, you feel more comfortable.

"Thank God he's all right and it's probably just precautionary observation stuff at this point," he said.

Zaun walked with one out in the bottom of the ninth and took off for second on John McDonald's grounder, which third baseman Joe Crede threw to second for the force out. Zaun's injury caused a 13-minute delay; the game ended two batters later, with the White Sox winning 5-4.

Paul Konerko and other Chicago players, who huddled around Zaun, said he was having trouble breathing.

"It was scary," Konerko said. "He was choking on something. That's what everyone standing out there was a little bit worried about. It's one thing to get knocked out, you get knocked out and you come to, but he was lifeless and it sounded like he was choking on something. He was gasping for air but lifeless at the same time.

"It was getting to the point where 10, 15, 20 seconds into it, you're wondering if this guy is going to choke to death right here," he said.

A Blue Jays spokesman said Zaun had breathing problems consistent with a head injury.

"He was coherent and he knew where he was, that's a good thing," Toronto center fielder Vernon Wells said.

Blue Jays manager John Gibbons was too distraught to comment.

"He is like the captain on the team," Toronto pitcher Jason Frasor said. "It's a tough loss. Who knows how long he is going to be out? I'm sure it's going to be a few days at least. He'll be missed."

Zaun, Toronto's starting catcher, is hitting .275 with three home runs and 20 RBI. The Blue Jays purchased the contract of catcher Andy Dominique to take his place on the roster. Dominique hit .182 with an RBI in 11 at-bats at Triple-A Syracuse.