Counsell was struck on the right cheek by a fastball from Houston Astros reliever C.J. Nitkowski with the bases loaded in the eighth inning of Florida's 11-3 win. He began spitting up blood but still attempted to run to first base before being stopped by Astros catcher Brad Ausmus.
"I didn't want him to fall down," Ausmus explained after the game. "Players play extremely hard against each other. You always try to win. But it's still a fraternity, you don't want to see someone seriously hurt."
Trainers tended to Counsell, eventually was helped off the field and taken to Holy Cross Hospital in Miami. He underwent X-rays and was examined by Dr. Daniel Kanell, who performed the surgery.
"He had filled up half a bucket of blood, then they took him off in a wheelchair," said Marlins starting pitcher Andy Larkin, who was in the clubhouse when Counsell left the game.
Counsell went 1-for-3 and was credited with an RBI on the play as Derrek Lee scored.
"It was a fastball that ran in," Nitkowski said. "It was an accident. I know it, Brad (Ausmus) knows it and I hope Craig Counsell knows that. He's a good person."
Counsell was part of most dubious acheivement for Nitkowski, who became the third player this century to hit three consecutive batters with pitches.
The 27-year-old has a .354 on-base percentage, best among Marlins with 150-or-more at-bats. He is hitting .251 with four homers, 40 RBI and 43 runs scored in 107 games.
Counsell and shortstop Edgar Renteria are the only remaining starting position players from last year's World Series-winning team. Counsell was pivotal in the decisive Game Seven victory over Cleveland, driving in the tying run in the bottom of the ninth and scoring the game-winner in the 11th.
Taking Counsell's roster spot is infielder Luis Castillo, who was recalled from Triple-A Charlotte. Castillo began the 1997 campaign as Florida's starting second baseman, but hit .240 with eight RBI and 16 stolen bases in 75 games before losing his job to Counsell.
Castillo was hitting .286 with 15 RBI and league-leading 41 steals in 100 games with Charlotte.
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