Cubs outfielder Junior Lake survived the scary collision that left him facedown on Wrigley Field’s warning track.
Lake gave the thumbs-up sign while walking through the clubhouse after Thursday’s 5-3 win over the Washington Nationals, saying he felt good. The team reported no signs of a concussion – only head and knee bruises – and it could have been so much worse.
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Lake sprinted from center on a foggy night, chasing a ball driven into the gap by Ryan Zimmerman, a two-time Silver Slugger winner. Lake slid feet first into the door that breaks up the ivy in right-center field. The ball bounced away as a leadoff double in the second inning. Lake’s left hand and head slammed into the door, knocking off his hat.
“He hit that thing really hard,” outfielder Justin Ruggiano said. “There’s not really a safe place to hit out there. You guys just happened to be able to hear that one because it was the metal door. I’m pretty sure everyone in the stadium heard that.”
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Ruggiano – who would later move from right field to center and snap a 3-3 tie in the seventh inning with a two-run double – immediately arrived on the scene before Dr. Stephen Adams and athletic trainers PJ Mainville and Ed Halbur.
“I don’t think he slowed down hardly at all,” Ruggiano said. “He wasn’t moving at first, and that was kind of scary. But then I started talking to him, and he was responding.
“And then all of a sudden, it was like he came to and wanted to play.”
Shortstop Starlin Castro ran out to the outfield to see Lake: “I thought he broke something.”
Castro watched the replay with Lake inside the clubhouse and had this reaction: “Wow, that’s scary.”
Castro also remembered what he told Lake after watching the former infielder recklessly play the outfield during last year’s big-league debut: “You got to be careful. You’ll kill yourself.”
Once back on his feet, Lake had a smile on his face and got a nice ovation from the crowd, walking back toward the dugout. The Cubs don’t expect this to be a disabled-list situation.
“He couldn’t have given you a better effort than that,” manager Rick Renteria said. “It’s part of the game when guys are really aggressive and giving you a great effort. Sometimes, that happens. Fortunately for us, I think it’s going to be something he’ll survive.”