Iwamura hurt on Coghlan's slide

Updated: May 24, 2009, 7:50 PM ET
Associated Press

MIAMI -- Second baseman Akinori Iwamura's aim was to turn a double play for the Tampa Bay Rays, and that's what happened -- but not the way he planned.

A bizarre sequence ended with Iwamura writhing on the grass due to a knee injury, and with Florida's John Baker out at the plate to complete a 1-4-6-2 double play that kept the score tied.

Iwamura was carted off the field. After the Rays' 5-4 loss in 11 innings he sat in the clubhouse, his left leg wrapped and propped on a chair.

The infielder is in his third season with the Rays after playing in Japan's Central League. He said he didn't know the extent of the injury and was to fly back to St. Petersburg, Fla., for further examination Monday.

"This is the most painful moment I've ever had in the States," Iwamura said through a translator. "Obviously it hurt when the guy hit me."

With runners at first and second and one out in the eighth inning, Florida's Wes Helms hit a one-hopper to pitcher Dan Wheeler, who spun and threw to second. Iwamura took the throw for a forceout, and was ready to relay to first with his left foot planted when Chris Coghlan slid into him.

The collision sent Iwamura tumbling to the turf. After a moment's hesitation, shortstop Jason Bartlett reached into Iwamura's glove to fetch the ball and threw home, where catcher Dioner Navarro tagged out Baker trying to score from second.

"Iwamura was on the ground yelling," Bartlett said. "No one called time. I tried calling time, but they weren't giving it to me. I looked up and Baker's heading home, so I took it out of his glove and threw it home."

Bartlett said there was nothing wrong with Coghlan's slide.

"From the marks that were by second base, if it were our player sliding, I'd probably high-five him," Bartlett said. "That's what you're taught to do: Break up the double play."

Rays manager Joe Maddon said the slide might have been a little late but described it as "hard baseball."

"I don't think there was an intent to hurt anybody," Maddon said. "We play hard baseball all the time ourselves."

The game was delayed six minutes while trainers tended to Iwamura. He pounded the grass in pain as teammates gathered around him, but after several minutes he sat up. Several Marlins also gathered around the second baseman, including Coghlan, who told Iwamura he was sorry.

After the game, Coghlan went into the Rays clubhouse and again told Iwamura he was sorry about the injury.

"I felt awful that he got injured," said Coghlan, a rookie. "I hope he's OK. I was just playing the game the right way."

The Rays had another scare in the 10th inning when Bartlett came up limping after covering second when Dan Uggla stole the base. Bartlett said he sprained his left ankle, but he stayed in the game and said he didn't think the injury was serious.

"He just slid over it, and it rolled under me," Bartlett said.


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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