In the bottom of the first inning on Thursday at the Field of Dreams game, Cincinnati Reds second baseman Jonathan India was hit by a pitch for the 32nd time in his career. At first, he didn't think anything was different about this one.India stayed in the game, and he had no intention to leave what was likely the only game he'd ever play at the historic movie site. A few hours later, he was in a helicopter being airlifted to a hospital in Iowa City to be evaluated for Compartment Syndrome, a serious condition that could have meant serious damage to his calf muscle.
India received the best-case news, and he joked on Saturday that he could have played for the Reds that night against the Chicago Cubs. He’s only working through soreness now, but India had one of the biggest injury scares of his career.
“The doctor said he wanted to see me again after the game,” India said. “He did all these tests and it was really painful. I was scared of some —Compartment Syndrome — I didn't even know what that is. What is this? He said you could lose your calf muscle if you don't go to the hospital.”
When India was hit by the pitch, he limped down the first base line but stayed in the game. His first thought was that this hit by pitch “really hurt,” more than usual on a hit by pitch. The following inning, he was trying to move around and test out his leg, and that hurt even more.
India thought it was a calf bruise. In between innings, he went into the training room to get it taped up.
“Then it was like, this is not a calf bruise,” India said. “I took my sock off and was like, what? I’ve never seen this before on my leg. The bruise was like this big on my leg. (Assistant athletic trainer Tomas Vera) was like, ‘Yeah that’s pretty bad... Tomas wanted me to stay out. I was like, I’m going back out, this is a once in a lifetime thing (at the Field of Dreams Game).”
When he went back up to the plate to hit, India couldn’t land on his front foot because of the “lump” on his leg. He couldn’t focus. India struck out and “was making a fool out of myself,” which made India realize he couldn’t stay in the game.
He later learned that if he would have played a few more innings, he could have done a lot of damage to his leg.
To manage the severe pain, India tried icing his leg. That didn’t work. He tried taking four Tylenol pills (“I took a lot”). That helped a bit, and India was able to go back to the dugout to cheer on his teammates. India met with the Cubs team doctor, who told India that he’d check back in after the game.
After the game, India met with Emergency Medical Technicians in the clubhouse. “I couldn’t believe there were so many people in there,” India said. “I was like, ‘what’s going on, guys?’ I thought it was just a big bruise.”
But his leg was swelling more than he had ever seen it before. They told India he had to get to a hospital to get it checked out for Compartment Syndrome. They told him if he had gone on the team plane back to Cincinnati, the swelling would have increased, and he would have done more damage.
It was India’s first time in a helicopter. Usually, for a medical airlift, the patient is unconscious. India actually got to look down at the view of the Field of Dreams, and the medical team on the helicopter joked that India was “the best person we’ve ever had.”
“We flew over the Field of Dreams,” India said. “It was sick. It was still lit up. I was like this is actually pretty fun. Pretty cool. I didn’t take a picture, they didn’t let me.”
Meanwhile, his girlfriend was en route to the hospital with Reds head athletic trainer Sean McQueeney. India said she was worried, but “she knows I’m strong.”
At the hospital, India asked the doctors why the swelling was so big near his shin bone. They explained how he had been hit in a “sensitive area,” and they found no broken bone or significant damage. The orthopedic surgeons did extensive tests, checking the pulse in his left leg and that he still had feeling in his foot.
India was at the hospital for four hours, and they checked on him every 20 minutes to see if his calf had tightened up or if the pulse in his leg had gone away.
“I’m lucky,” India said.
Since there was still concern about what a plane ride could do to the swelling on his leg, India rode back to Cincinnati with McQueeney, and India drove for the final hour.
India was back at Great American Ball Park on Saturday, getting treatment before the game. India had a big bandage on his left leg, but he joked that he could have been in the starting lineup.
“It all ended up being good,” India said. “It's crazy that just for a bruise I had to go through that. It was more serious than I thought. I'm glad everyone was there to help me, the trainers, the Cubs doctor. I'm glad that they were looking out for me because, if it was (up to) me, I'd just have gone on the plane. And who knows what would've happened.”
This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: Injury for Reds' Jonathan India could have cost him calf muscle