Play at 2nd has Nixon fuming

Monday, April 6, 1998

Play at 2nd has Nixon fuming

MINNEAPOLIS -- Otis Nixon has a broken jaw and some bad feelings toward Kansas City shortstop Felix Martinez after the rookie kicked the Minnesota outfielder in the face during a play at second base.

"It felt like a horse kick," Nixon said.

Nixon was trying to break up a double play when he slid into second in the first inning of Kansas City's win over Minnesota on Saturday night. Martinez was unable to make a throw to first and kicked out as Nixon slid by.

Nixon stayed down for several minutes and was examined on the field by the Twins trainers before jogging off. He played the rest of the game but sat out Sunday, and X-rays revealed the break in the lower left portion of his jaw.

Nixon also saw a replay of the incident for the first time Sunday. "It didn't look good," he said firmly. "Didn't like what I saw."

Martinez, who was ejected from 13 games with Double-A Wichita in 1995, said Saturday night that his contact with Nixon was an accident. Neither Kansas City manager Tony Muser nor Twins manager Tom Kelly commented on the situation Sunday.

In his 15th season at age 39, Nixon plans to continue playing while his jaw heals, wearing a face mask when he hits from the right side. He was given the option of surgery, which would keep him out at least 10 days, but decided to allow the injury a chance to heal on its own. That should take about three weeks.

"I've got to eat soup for three weeks now," he said.

Former Minnesota Twins star Kirby Puckett suffered cuts on his arm and head in a one-vehicle rollover accident on Sunday.

Puckett, who led the Twins to World Series titles in 1987 and '91, was in stable condition at Fairview-Southdale Hospital in Edina. Puckett was alone in the vehicle when the crash occurred around 1 p.m. on Interstate 35-W near Mounds View.

Puckett was forced to retire in 1996 when an early form of glaucoma left him blind in his right eye.


Jeffrey Hammonds made his first start in center field for Baltimore Sunday, and he nearly left a lasting impression. On the outfield fence. With his face.

Battling the sun and wind as he chased a long fly ball by the Detroit's Tony Clark in the third inning, Hammonds reached across his body at the last instant and crouched to make a backhanded catch on the warning track. As he did, he turned and hit the padding face-first, then fell on his back with his legs sticking in the air, then rose slowly and smiled as he rubbed the back of his neck.

"The sun was right over the backstop. The worst ball that could be hit was hit. It was very, very fortunate that I caught it. I didn't see it until the last instant." Hammonds said.