PITTSBURGH -- Andrew McCutchen expects to be sore on Wednesday, but the center fielder appears to have caught a huge break in an incident that could have been much worse.
McCutchen exited Tuesday's 7-6 win over the Reds with a bruise on the back of his neck. He suffered the injury after being hit by a 90-mph, second-inning fastball from Cincinnati starter Mike Leake.
The pitch struck the outfielder on his neck muscles, and he fell to the ground immediately, where he laid for several minutes while being attended to by team trainers. McCutchen did eventually sit up and was helped off the field.
"You never like to see that," said starter Paul Maholm, who watched everything unfold from first base. "Getting hit is one thing. Getting hit up there is scary deal. It's no fun to watch and you just hope and pray he's OK."
Preliminary X-rays came back normal, and a Pirates spokesperson reported that McCutchen did not show any concussion-like symptoms. The Pirates have listed McCutchen's status as day-to-day, and while he probably won't play on Wednesday, that might be the only time McCutchen misses.
"He got lucky that it hit him in the neck and not the head," Bucs manager John Russell said. "He's in good spirits. It's scary, definitely scary. I think we might have gotten away with him not being down for long, if at all.
McCutchen was unavailable for comment after the game. This injury, which occured in the midst of the Bucs' six-run second inning, came as he continued to recover from a right shoulder sprain that had already cost him seven games in the last two weeks.
No one in the Pirates' clubhouse believed there was any intent behind Leake's up-and-in pitch, though Maholm did retaliate almost immediately after. When Leake came to the plate in the third, Maholm struck his mound opponent on the side of his left knee.
Leake jogged to first base without incident as home-plate umpire Dana DeMuth issued a warning to Maholm and both benches.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.