Umpire leaves game after being hit in head by piece of broken maple bat

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Plate umpire Brian O'Nora was hit in the head by a shattered piece of Miguel Olivo's broken maple bat Tuesday night, sending blood streaming down his face and forcing him out of a game between the Colorado Rockies and Kansas City Royals.

O'Nora was injured in the bottom of the second inning when Olivo's bat snapped on a groundout to shortstop. With blood pouring down his face, O'Nora rushed to Kansas City's dugout, where Jose Guillen quickly covered the umpire's head with a towel.

O'Nora came out of the game and was treated by Kansas City trainer Nick Swartz. The Royals later announced that the umpire had a small cut on his forehead and was taken to St. Luke's Hospital for further evaluation.

After the Royals' 7-3 victory, Olivo confirmed that the shattered bat that struck O'Nora was made of maple. The Kansas City designated hitter said he switched to an ash bat for the rest of the game.

Earlier in the day, Major League Baseball said it will start testing bats following Tuesday's meeting of a player-management safety committee, but the sport made no decision on the contentious issue of banning maple models.

"They are very, very dangerous. I'm surprised that this is the first incident we've seen," Royals manager Trey Hillman said. "It could have been worse, a lot worse. It looked a lot worse than it was. There was a lot of blood. My understanding is that he is OK."

Some say maple bats splinter with greater force than bats made of ash, and commissioner Bud Selig said last month that shattering maple bats are "a source of concern for me."

"Sometimes they shatter even when guys square up on the barrel," Hillman said. "Sometimes they shatter, more often than not, when they are jammed."

Selig has not said whether the sport would consider a ban on maple bats or regulating the thickness of handles. The commissioner can't ban maple bats unilaterally because their use is a term and condition of employment and subject to collective bargaining.

After O'Nora was hurt, both teams left the field and the game was delayed for 13 minutes before resuming with three umpires. Paul Nauert, who began the night as the first base umpire, moved behind the plate.

"I've broke a lot of bats. I feel so bad for the umpire," Olivo said. "I saw the blood come out and they came out and put a towel on his head. I just worried a little bit."

Kansas City infielder Mike Aviles also said he switched from maple to ash for the rest of the game after O'Nora was hurt.

"I go back and forth," Aviles said. "Honestly, I don't want them to get rid of it because I like using maple. I like the option of having both if I want to use it."