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Low & Outside: AL Notes

Whenever a player gets hit in the face with a line drive, old guys like me think back to one of the most devastating injuries in the game's history.

Lucky Blackburn

Whenever a player gets hit in the face with a line drive, old guys like me think back to one of the most devastating injuries in the game's history.

It occurred on May 7, 1957, when promising Indians pitcher Herb Score was struck in the face by a line drive off the bat of the Yankees' Gil McDougald. Score suffered several broken bones in his face. McDougald vowed to retire if Score didn't regain his eyesight. He did, but Score, who was in his third season, was not the same pitcher. He was 16-10 and 20-9 his first two seasons and held the strikeout record for rookies (245) until 1984. He finished with a career record of 55-46.

So yesterday's news was welcomed that the Twins' Nick Blackburn is fine despite getting hit in the face on Sunday with a line drive hit by the Yankees' Bobby Abreu. The rookie righthander, who left the game holding a towel to his face to stem the bleeding, escaped with a bruised nose and lip.

"We were very lucky," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.

It remains to be seen if Blackburn will become gun-shy, as Score did.

"It's a scary situation," Blackburn said. "It's scary to see someone else get hit, so it definitely makes you a little leery of being out there. But it happens. It's part of the game. Everything turned out all right. I'll be able to get out there and get back on the mound."

Visibly shaken by the incident, Abreu spoke to Blackburn after the game and said he was relieved. Blackburn may have escaped more serious damage because he was leaning back and the ball glanced off his glove before hitting him. Score wasn't so fortunate.

The mouth

Pat Corrales is believed to be the only manager in history to get fired while his team was in first place. His team: the Phillies. The year: 1983.

Ozzie Guillen seems bent on joining him.

The volatile White Sox manager challenged general manager Kenny Williams to find him some hitters after Sunday's loss to the Rays. In an e-mail to the Chicago Tribune, Williams made it clear that Guillen should stick to managing the team and let him deal with personnel matters.

"It's just not a good idea to throw your boss under the bus, especially when that boss has had your back as much as I've had his," Williams wrote. "I expect this team, if the leadership remains positive and the players stick together and continue to play hard, it'll be a fun summer. . . . It will be nice to see them lighten up and have some fun."


Is Tampa Bay a serious challenger to Boston in the East Division? The answer could come this week when the Rays visit Fenway Park for a three-game series beginning tonight. The Red Sox are 21-5 at home, best in baseball. The Rays are 11-12 on the road but have won eight of their last 10. . . . Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton, who has made an inspiring comeback from drug and alcohol abuse, was chosen as the American League player of the month for May. . . . Yankees catcher Jorge Posada went 1 for 3 with a walk in an extended spring-training game and remains on schedule to rejoin the team this week. Sidelined since April 27 by a sore right shoulder, Posada made two throws to the bases in the game against minor-leaguers from the Phillies' organization. . . . Tigers relievers Fernando Rodney and Joel Zumaya are set to begin rehabilitation assignments today. Rodney has been on the disabled list with tendinitis in his right shoulder. Zumaya is recovering from surgery on his right shoulder last fall. . . . Reliever Tom Mastny was recalled from triple-A Buffalo by the offensively slumping Indians, who optioned infielder Michael Aubrey back to the minors.