KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -A metal plate implanted in his right hand seven years ago probably saved Seattle catcher Kenji Johjima from what could have been a season-ending injury.
Wearing a thick bandage on the hand Wednesday, Johjima described the pain that shot through him when a pitched ball struck the plate on Tuesday as ``like a sound,'' and said he was worried that it might have ended his career.
The hand immediately swelled up and he left the game. But manager John McLaren said Johjima was much better by Wednesday afternoon and would probably play on Thursday.
``We can use him (Wednesday) if we want to, but we probably won't,'' McLaren said. ``The swelling went down. We got a big scare because it hit him on his plate, and the trainer said if it hadn't hit him on the plate and he didn't have the plate it would have broken his hand. So he avoided a big problem there.''
The ball glanced off batter Mark Teahen and struck Johjima, who doubled up in pain.
Johjima described the pain as a ``sound'' going through his arm and neck.
Doctors implanted the plate in Japan in 2000 after Johjima was hit by a foul tip.
``When I had my surgery, that doctor in Japan told me if I was hurt over here again that could finish my baseball career,'' he said through an interpreter. ``So I was very worried and curious about what would happen. This is one of my weak points right here.''
Johjima took it easy Wednesday and did not try to throw.
``No, not at this point. But I think I can throw tomorrow,'' he said.
First baseman Richie Sexson, who sustained a deep thumb bruise in a play at first on Monday night, was also feeling better.
``That's very, very positive and that's a good sign,'' McLaren said. ``We are not putting any timetable on him. He is a tough kid and we will see how he is tomorrow, if he is feeling better. He did say the treatments are taking effect. He is feeling much better, so that is a good sign.''

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