Harris County employee injured by line drive into Astros dugout

By Cory McCord - Digital News Editor, Daniela Sternitzky-Di Napoli - Digital News Editor, Vincent Crivelli - Reporter, AP Author

HOUSTON - A Harris County Emergency Corps employee who was struck in the head Sunday by a foul ball at Minute Maid Park is in good spirits, according to his wife.

Paramedic Brian Cariota was in the dugout when Michael Brantley hit a sharp line drive in the bottom of the fifth inning of Game 2 of the American League Championship Series. The ball struck Cariota in the head.

Cori Cariota said her husband was taken to an area hospital and is receiving treatment for his injuries. His wife said he'll remain in the hospital for another two to three days before he's able to go home.

“He does have a small skull fracture and he does have a small bleed on his brain, but it’s the kind that you want to have," Cori Cariota said. "The doctors are not concerned.”

Cori Cariota said she was watching the game and saw her husband fist bump George Springer before it happened.

“My husband says he should not have taken his eye off the ball,” said Cori Cariota. "He had a couple of CAT scans and then they are testing the vision in his left eye."

The hit and injury were not shown on TV, but the players in the dugout were visibly shaken.

Springer and fellow Houston star Carlos Correa could be seen putting their hands on their heads and then looking away seconds after the ball entered the dugout.

“I felt really bad,” said Jose Altuve. “I know the game continued, but I really hope he’s OK ... I did a quick prayer before I went to hit, so like I said, I hope he’s OK.”

Play was briefly halted after the accident in the fifth inning, and Houston manager AJ Hinch came on the field to console a shaken-up Brantley.

The game resumed after a couple of minutes and Brantley struck out but reached first on a wild pitch by Adam Ottavino.

After the game, Brantley said his thoughts and prayers were with the man and his family, and that he hopes to speak with him soon.

Cori Cariota said Brantley shouldn't worry about the incident.

“I don’t think he has anything to apologize for," Cori Cariota said. "It was just one of those freak accidents and my husband recognizes that. (Brantley) needs to focus on the series, and after they are done with the World Series and they have that cup, then we will talk.”

The Astros extended the protective netting at Minute Maid Park to cover more of the seating area earlier this year, but there is no such protection for the dugouts. The move came after a 2-year-old girl suffered a skull fracture when she struck by a foul ball during a May game in Houston.

Copyright 2019 by KPRC Click2Houston. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.