Home plate umpire Joe West was forced to leave the field during the early proceedings of Thursday's game between Toronto Blue Jays and Washington Nationals after being hit in the head by a flying bat. The 67-year-old was bleeding from his left ear as he was attended to by Nationals trainer Paul Lessard. West exited the field along with Lessard but soon resumed umpiring duties during the third inning.
The incident occurred at the bottom of the first inning after Blue Jays shortstop Bo Bichette swung (and missed) a fastball from Nationals pitcher Erick Fedde, losing control of his bat on the follow-through. The bat slammed West in the head, leaving the veteran umpire bloodied on the field. Lessard, who was the first to rush to the scene, handed Joe West a towel to press against his wound as the duo headed for the ramp that led to the umpires room.
The game continued after a six-minute break with just three umpires on the field. To everyone's surprise, Joe West returned to the field in the middle of the third inning and stationed himself at third base. Vic Carapazza, who started the game at second, took charge of the home plate.
This is not the first time West has taken a blow during his long career as a professional umpire. The 67-year-old, who made his umpiring debut back in 1976, was injured during a Marlins-Brewers game in 2017 when someone from the stands threw a ball at West. West entered the 2020 MLB season with 5,312 regular-season games under his belt, second only to Baseball Hall of Fame umpire Bill Klem (5,375 games).
Defending World Series champions Washington National picked up their fourth win of the season after beating Toronto Blue Jays 6-4. Starlin Castro scored twice for the Nationals and Michael Taylor scored a homer as Nationals saw off the challenge from a struggling Blue Jays. The Nationals' upcoming three-game series against Miami Marlins has been postponed after the Marlins reported multiple cases of COVID-19 within their camp. The Nationals are scheduled to face New York Mets on August 4. The Blue Jays also had their series against Philadelphia Phillies postponed. They will be facing the Atlanta Braves next.