It's only spring training, but thankfully a fan's reflexes were already in mid-season form to save a young boy from being smashed in the face with a flying baseball bat over the weekend.
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review photographer Christopher Horner captured the scary moment when an adult fan used his arm to block the boy's face right before the bat would have made contact during Saturday's Pirates-Braves game.
This picture's worth 1,000 stitches — and a big sigh of relief.
The close call occurred when Pirates outfielder Danny Ortiz swung and missed in a spring training game in Brandenton, Florida. Ortiz lost control of the bat, sending it hurtling toward a boy who was looking down at his cell phone in the stands behind first base near the Braves' dugout.
The quick-thinking man next to him stuck out his left arm and deflected it to save the boy from a face full of stitches.
“I didn't know what happened, if it [hurt] the boy or anything,” Ortiz told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “I went home and my wife said to me, ‘You almost killed that kid!'"
"I saw the picture. It was crazy. That guy took [a blow] for the kid. The father, or whoever he was, he protected that kid.”
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Several fans have been badly injured by flying bats in recent years, including a woman who went to the hospital after getting hit by a shard of a broken bat at Fenway Park in Boston last June. Another fan was taken off on a stretcher after getting hit by a bat in at a Cubs game at Wrigley Field in April 2015.
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