NEW YORK -- Jeremy Hellickson has taken a lot of ribbing from teammates since winning a Gold Glove Award after the 2012 season. But Friday night, the Rays right-hander used his glove to avoid serious injury in the first inning, when Ichiro Suzuki lined one back at the mound.
At first glance, it was hard to tell if the ball struck Hellickson in the head, but he came away with it in his glove.
Hellickson offered a smile, expressing relief when asked about how close he had come to getting struck with the ball.
"Really close," Hellickson said. "I saw it off the bat, it was hit so hard. I just threw my glove up and the ball kind of caught my glove. But I saw it off the bat, thank God."
Hellickson watched a replay after coming out of the game and noted: "It would have gotten me right in the jaw."
Rays players are familiar with the idea of a pitcher getting hit in the head by a batted ball, as they have witnessed it in person twice this season. First, J.A. Happ of the Blue Jays got hit in the head by a Desmond Jennings line drive at Tropicana Field. Later, Alex Cobb got hit in the head by a line drive hit by Kansas City's Eric Hosmer, also at Tropicana Field.