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Umpire Crawford exits Rays-Jays

Umpire Crawford exits Rays-Jays

TORONTO -- The men in blue had a rough go of it during Wednesday night's 3-2 Rays win over the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre.

Veteran umpire Jerry Crawford had to leave the game after the second inning with back spasms, and his replacement behind home plate, Tom Hallion, almost had to leave before the seventh inning, after he was hit in the chest on the final pitch of the sixth inning.

Midway through the bottom of the second, Crawford signaled to the then-second-base umpire, Hallion, that something was wrong, which prompted Hallion to rush to the umpires' dressing room to change into the necessary equipment so he could take over behind home plate.

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Once Hallion finished changing, he returned to the field and relieved Crawford, leaving the crew with three umps.

The umpiring situation almost got dire when Rays starter Scott Kazmir struck out Travis Snider, who swung at and missed the final pitch of the sixth. On the pitch, Hallion took an open shot to the right side of his chest and immediately went down on his back in obvious pain. Trainers from both teams tended to Hallion before he got up on his own power.

"[Kazmir] threw one about as hard as he could, and it took off on him," Rays catcher Gregg Zaun said. "I asked some guys, 'Did that ball look like it rose?' From my vantage point I'm on one side of the plate, it's 90-plus [mph] on the complete opposite side of the plate. And up and in, to boot. On top of that I'm looking straight into the lights right above the restaurant. I completely lost it.

"That was scary. I feel so bad -- it's just one of those things. I don't like to see that happen. It's pretty rare when I don't get leather on the ball."

After a delay of 21 minutes, the umpiring crew returned to the field with Hallion moving to third base, Scott Barry at first and Brian O'Nora behind the plate.

Crawford was asked what would have happened had Hallion not been able to continue.

"If he was having any difficulties breathing or something like that, we wouldn't have let him go back out there," Crawford said. "I would have gone back out there. We would have worked three men. I would have gone back out."

Crawford believed he and Hallion would both ready by Friday night, when their crew is working in St. Louis.

Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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