CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Tommy Joseph didn't waste any time. He walked right through the clubhouse and into the X-ray room.
"I got lucky," the Phillies first baseman said.
Joseph was hit on the side of the left hand by a pitch from Atlanta right-hander Aaron Blair in the first inning of Tuesday's Grapefruit League game at Spectrum Field (see game story). Joseph stayed in the game for an inning before heading into the clubhouse, worried that he'd suffered a fracture.
"When I grabbed a bat, it didn't feel too comfortable, so at that point it was a pretty easy decision to come out," Joseph said. "I had the X-ray right away."
Joseph pointed to the fleshy side of his hand, which was covered in a wrap.
"If it would've hit higher it probably would've gotten more bone," he said. "But I have a little muscle and fat there."
The impact of the ball compressing the fleshy side of his hand against the bat knob caused a blood blister.
The Phillies are typically cautious with health matters at this time of the year, so Joseph is likely to miss some time. But he is expected to be back on the field in plenty of time to be ready for opening day.
Joseph knows all too well the devastating impact that injuries can have on a player. As a minor-league catcher, he missed significant time with a series of concussions and a wrist injury that required surgery. Joseph switched to first base late in 2015, got healthy and made it to the majors last season. He hit .257 with 21 homers and 47 RBIs in 107 games. That performance earned him the starting first base job coming into this season -- and the opportunity to prove he can hold down the job long term.
It's an opportunity Joseph has long desired. That's why he felt a sense of relief when the X-ray came back negative.