Health concerns are backdrop to balls and strikes in Boston


Sox's Cubbage has seizure

pitch forces out umpire

April 13, 2003|By Joe Christensen | Joe Christensen,SUN STAFF

BOSTON - Orioles pitcher Jason Johnson has suffered through several diabetic seizures on his own, but he had never seen anyone else go through one until last night.

In a frightening scene during the long-awaited home opener at Fenway Park, Boston Red Sox third base coach Mike Cubbage began convulsing after the fifth inning. After several anxious moments, he left the field on a stretcher.

Cubbage, 52, was given sugar intravenously and responded well. According to Red Sox doctor Bill Mogan, Cubbage was awake and alert and was sent to the emergency room at Beth Israel Hospital as a precaution.

"It shuts down all your muscles," Johnson said. "That's why he was shaking out there. It's really tough. It's scary to see."

Johnson, 29, who has Type I diabetes, had his most recent on-field seizure on Feb. 20 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. That one came just three days after Orioles pitching prospect Steve Bechler died of heatstroke.

Orioles third base coach Tom Trebelhorn and second baseman Jerry Hairston grabbed Cubbage after noticing the signs of distress. Several Red Sox players and staff rushed to the scene.

"When your team comes up to hit and you go out to coach third base and the other team's third base coach is still out there, right away you think something is strange," Trebelhorn said. "Then, he tried to take a step and his motor skills were just gone. He locked up."

The crowd hushed, but both teams had experience at this and remained calm. Orioles trainers Richie Bancells and Brian Ebel rushed out and gave Cubbage some of the glucose paste they keep on hand for Johnson.

Johnson started last night's game for the Orioles. He blocked out the distractions and held the Red Sox to three runs on six hits over 6 1/3 innings, earning his first victory of the season.

Last year, Johnson and Cubbage spoke about their respective conditions. Both of them wear an insulin pump.

"They just told me he was fine," Johnson said. "So I hope to see him tomorrow in good health."

Umpire injured

In the fourth inning, home plate umpire Jerry Layne left the field to have X-rays taken on his neck after taking a fastball from Pedro Martinez off the side of his mask. Layne had pain in his cervical spine.

He stayed in the game for one more pitch, which ended the top of the fourth inning. Then, after consulting with Bancells, Layne came out of the game.

There was a nine-minute delay before the bottom of the fourth, as second base umpire Marvin Hudson put on protective equipment to move behind the plate.

Dan Iassogna, a fifth umpire on hand, replaced Hudson at second base.

Gibbons shaken up

The Orioles also had a scare when Jay Gibbons crashed into the right-field wall in catching Johnny Damon's fly ball to start the sixth inning. Gibbons appeared to have the wind knocked out of him. Center fielder Gary Matthews went over for a look, but Gibbons shook it off and stayed in the game.

Pitching plans

Orioles manager Mike Hargrove chose to keep his starting rotation in order when rain washed away Game 1 of yesterday's doubleheader. But the Red Sox changed things up a bit. They will skip knuckleballer Tim Wakefield and use Derek Lowe to start today's series finale.

Lowe had originally been scheduled to pitch today, and the move allows him to stay on schedule.

By maintaining his rotation, Hargrove will have each of his starters make a turn on six days' rest, starting with Johnson last night and Rodrigo Lopez today.

Hendricks' camp

Orioles bullpen coach Elrod Hendricks will conduct his annual baseball camp at McDonogh School, with sessions June 23 to July 11 and July 14 to Aug. 1. The camp has four age groups: 7 and 8, 9 and 10, 11 and 12, and 13 to 16. Participants will receive instruction from Hendricks, who has been associated with the Orioles as a player and coach for 35 years, and the McDonogh baseball staff. Enrollment will be $750 per session.

For information, call 410-922-9438.

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