Scott Downs now has a pretty good idea of how hard Chase Utley can hit the ball. According to Jay Greenberg of MLB.com, the Braves reliever suffered a non-displaced fracture to his ring finger on his right hand after being hit by a comebacker from Utley that smashed hard into the back of his glove. Downs was immediately removed from the game but manager Fredi Gonzalez did not think the fracture would keep the lefty out of action.
"We will play it by ear," said Gonzalez. "I think he can put his hand in his glove, with a little bit of a splint, or tape it up and it will be fine.
"He said he will see how it feels tomorrow and go from there."
The line drive from Utley came back at Downs so quickly that he did not have a chance to make the play, simply blocking the ball with the back of his glove. Although Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman was able to field the ball after it bounced off Downs' glove, the reliever was unable to make the out at first base as the Phillies second baseman beat him to the bag. Downs immediately pulled off his glove and felt the finger, obviously in pain.
Downs is having a strong season so far, with a 1.98 ERA over 41 innings, although his 1.34 WHIP and the fact that he has given up just one home run all season suggests that some regression may be coming. He came over from the Angels to fill an important hole in the Braves' bullpen after lefties Eric O'Flaherty and Jonny Venters both suffered torn UCLs and were forced to undergo Tommy John surgery earlier this year.
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