GLENDALE, Ariz. – One player standing nearby compared the sound to a baseball hitting a brick wall.
Pitcher Clayton Kershaw said it didn't look good.
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly called it “scary.”
When a slicing line drive off the bat of Andre Ethier struck Sandy Koufax on the head Friday morning, Camelback Ranch fell deathly silent.
“I've seen guys get hit,” Mattingly said, “but not anyone of that stature.”
Other than a cut on his head, the 78-year-old Hall of Famer came out of the incident OK. He said a CT scan showed no internal bleeding.
“I'm fine,” Koufax said. “I never saw (the ball). I don't know how it got me.”
The ball struck Koufax, the consensus greatest pitcher in franchise history, in the upper-left forehead as he was pressed against a cyclone fence near the Dodgers' bullpen in foul territory behind third base.
Ethier almost was finished with his final round of batting practice when he sliced the ball foul. Koufax was waiting to watch Kershaw, who had just finished warming up for his second spring outing against live hitters. Koufax's head was turned away from the plate.
The sight and the sound were scary, but everyone's worst fears quickly gave way to relief. Koufax stayed on his feet, rubbed his head and sat down in a utility cart. He waved to the crowd, holding an ice pack on his head with his other hand, and was carted away by a Dodgers trainer for treatment on site.
A couple hours later Koufax was in the Dodgers' clubhouse meeting with players, like he has all week. There was a cut on his forehead but no bandage.
Koufax is in his second season as a special advisor to Dodgers chairman Mark Walter and joked with Mattingly about wearing a helmet to the field.
“I feel like I've got more whiplash than anything,” Koufax said.
Kemp likely out for Sydney
Mattingly solved the Dodgers' supposed four-outfielder problem. For two games, at least.
Matt Kemp isn't expected to be available for the Dodgers' season-opening trip to Sydney, Australia on March 22. Kemp still hasn't been cleared to run on flat ground and won't be until he undergoes an MRI exam next week.
“I don't think we're ... we're not hopeful for Australia,” Mattingly said. “The MRI next week ... will let us know where he's at.”
Kemp faced live pitching on a minor-league field at Camelback Ranch on Friday. Throughout spring training, he has been able to maintain his weightlifting regimen and exercise on an AlterG anti-gravity treadmill.
But that is different from running on flat ground, or patrolling the outfield, or turning around first base.
“It's just the fact that he hasn't been on the grass, running and cutting,” Mattingly said. “How long that takes, once they clear him to start that type of thing, that will be a progression.”
For now, expect an outfield of Carl Crawford in left field, Andre Ethier in center and Yasiel Puig in right in Australia — if all three are healthy.