TORONTO -- Blue Jays pitching coach Bruce Walton narrowly avoided a serious injury after being hit by a broken bat during Thursday night's 8-3 victory over the Mariners.
The incident occurred when Edwin Encarnacion hit a grounder in the first inning, and a shard of the bat flew into the dugout and hit Walton. The bat was headed for Walton's head, but he was able to get his arms up in time.
Walton left the game and was sent for precautionary X-rays before being diagnosed with a contusion on both of his forearms.
"It was just to protect his face," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said. "He's toward the end of the bench where there's people going to the bat rack. So, there's people in front of him, and as people are moving out of the way, here comes a bat flying through the air.
"In this case, while he's sore and there's definite bone bruises that are there, it could have been a whole lot worse."
The scary incident prompted Farrell to speak out against the use of maple bats. Maple bats are legal, but have a tendency to shatter with a lot more frequency than their ash counterparts.
Some players tend to prefer maple because it's a harder wood and they believe balls come off the bat with more velocity. But there's also the increased danger of shards causing serious injuries on the field.
Farrell thinks it's an issue that should be looked into by Major League Baseball.
"They're dangerous, and it's repeatedly every night we see a bat fly through the air and hopefully no one gets injured by it," Farrell said. "But you'd think that Major League Baseball would do something about it, because it's to the point now that you have shrapnel flying everywhere and it's a pointed object.
"It has some weight and some velocity too as it's flying through the air. It's a dangerous situation. Fortunately, he was able to get his arms up in front of his face, and that's where it was headed, right into his head."
Bullpen coach Pete Walker later assumed Walton's spot on the bench for the remainder of the game.