PHILADELPHIA -- Phillies center fielder Aaron Rowand left Thursday's game with a broken nose and lacerations to the face after crashing into the center field fence to make an over-the-shoulder catch for the final out of the first inning. Rowand was taken to Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, where he will remain overnight before having his nose surgically repaired on Friday morning. With the bases loaded and two outs in the top of the first, Mets right fielder Xavier Nady sent a Gavin Floyd pitch deep to center field. Rowand caught the ball running at full speed with his back to home plate and went face first into the chain-link fence in front of the bullpen.
"I've seen some great plays," manager Charlie Manuel said. "That one definitely ranks up there with the best of them. That might be the best effort and determination I've ever seen." Rowand remained on the ground for a few minutes with a towel held to his face and several teammates and team personnel surrounding him. He walked off the field to a standing ovation before leaving for the downtown hospital. "He's going to be out for a while," Manuel said. "How long, I don't know." Manuel added that the team will evaluate his condition on Friday before making a decision on whether to send Rowand to the disabled list. The catch got Floyd out of major trouble in the first and propelled him to pitch his first career shutout -- albeit in a five-inning game. "At first I was pumping my fist, and then I saw him on the ground," Floyd said. "I saw the replay in slow-mo, and it didn't look good." Rowand, who is known for playing hard, suffered the latest injury two days after being hit in the hand by a Pedro Martinez pitch. "That's always been the way Aaron plays," closer Tom Gordon said. "He was going to make that play no matter what." Shane Victorino replaced Rowand in center field to begin the second inning and went 2-for-2 with a triple and a double. The sad irony of the play that sent Rowand to the hospital is that he had been the one who pointed out the danger of that wall to Phillies management last month. The Phillies immediately ordered padding for that section of the fence, and it arrived at Citizens Bank Park on Tuesday. The team planned to install it this weekend, while the Phillies are away in Cincinnati. So Rowand will be the last to suffer an injury like that on the center-field fence. It's only proper for a play that will remain in the collective memory of the Phillies and their fans for a long time. "It was an amazing catch," second baseman Chase Utley said. "The greatest catch I ever saw."
Zachary Levine is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.