PITTSBURGH -- Violence isn't as integral an aspect of baseball as it is in some other sports, but you'd be terribly mistaken to suggest that America's pastime is without any danger.
A fine illustration of the risks involved occurred in the seventh inning of Monday's game, when Pirates second baseman Neil Walker dug in against Dodgers reliever Randy Choate with two on and two out.
In a 1-0 count, Choate threw a low fastball to Walker, who smoked the pitch right back at the pitcher's face. Somehow, Choate was able to spear the ball, protecting both himself and the Dodgers' two-run lead.
"He was right on it," Choate said. "It came back at me. I saw it the whole way, even though it was hit pretty hard. It was definitely hit harder back at me than I think I threw it to the plate.
"It's just kind of reflexes at that point. It was literally coming right at my face. It was more self-defense than anything else. If I was Walker, I'd sure be [upset] because he hit the ball really well. Luckily for me, my glove happened to be there. I know my face is definitely appreciative."