Cubs' Happ hits Cardinals catcher Contreras in head with follow-through, then gets hit by pitch

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St. Louis Cardinals catcher Willson Contreras is hit the bat as Chicago Cubs' Ian Happ follows through on a swing during the first inning of a baseball game Thursday, July 27, 2023, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Scott Kane)

ST. LOUIS – Chicago Cubs outfielder Ian Happ hit St. Louis catcher Willson Contreras in the head with a long follow-through on a swing, then was soon hit himself by a pitch from Cardinals starter Miles Mikolas.

Mikolas and Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol were ejected in the first-inning dustup between the longtime rivals.

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Contreras was cut badly and tumbled down. After a hug from former Chicago teammate Happ, Contreras walked off the field.

The Cardinals said Contreras had a scalp laceration and was day to day to return to the lineup. Glue, not stitches, was used to close the wound.

“I feel fine,” Contreras said. “I had a little headache after I got hit. I was kind of knocked out. I felt the backswing. I felt the blood and I knew it was bad. I didn’t want to get stitches. I want to make sure I'm ready to go tomorrow.”

Contreras wanted to remain in the game.

“It was bleeding really bad,” Contreras said. “I wanted to be in there. At the same time, I have to take care of myself.”

Happ reached out to Contreras.

“He did apologize,” Contreras said. “We're very good friends. It's part of the game. It happens and it's over.”

Happ and Contreras played together six years before Contreras signed with St. Louis in the offseason.

“It just sucks,” Happ said. “It's horrible. He comes up bloody. We're good friends. I have a lot of love for him. To see him go down and be bleeding from the head was obviously a scary moment.”

Cubs manager David Ross said there is no blame to assess in the situation.

“It's part of the game,” Ross said. “It stinks. It's terrible how it happened. He was fighting to stay in the game. I sent him a text and I hope he is all right. Happ felt terrible.”

Andrew Knizner took over behind the plate, and Mikolas brushed back Happ with the first pitch when play resumed to run the count to 3-1. With the next pitch, Mikolas hit Happ in the rear.

Happ didn’t cause a scene.

“Just go to first base,” Happ said. “I wore it. I kind of felt he coming in there.”

Mikolas stopped while walking off and appeared to gesture and call over to the Cubs dugout, apparently signaling them to come out on the field.

Crew chief Lance Barksdale explained the decision to toss Mikolas.

“To a man, we all four, it was no doubt that was intentional," Barksdale said. "And when it’s intentional, no matter where it hits him at, he’s ejected. Two pitches in, like I said, it’s pretty easy on our part.”

Mikolas understood the decision.

“I was a little surprised,” Mikolas said. “I was waiting and they had a meeting and they decided to toss me. I throw inside to a lot of guys. The umpires can believe whatever they want to believe. They had a meeting and that was their choice. They believed intent was there and that's all the reasoning umpires need.”

Marmol argued the ejection and also was sent to the clubhouse.

“They said there was intent and by rule they have to eject him,” Marmol said about Mikolas. “Guys weren't happy about the other side laughing. We had a catcher go down and was bleeding. They took offense to that. The umpire and Jack (Flaherty) were having a conversation and that led to my ejection.”

Dakota Hudson came in to pitch for St. Louis. He gave up a single, walked two, and was touched for a ground-rule double. Chicago led 3-0.


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