ARLINGTON, Texas -- It was, quite simply, the worst pain A's catcher Derek Norris said he'd ever experienced.
A foul tip off the bat of the Texas Rangers' Adrian Beltre came up and hit Norris in the groin. And it was no glancing blow, either.
For a moment Norris thought he'd be able to go on playing. And then he started to lose feeling in his legs. He wound up falling down on his knees as the A's medics sprinted from the dugout and tried to assess the damage.
"Any time you get hit in the you-know-what, it's going to hurt," Norris said 30 minutes after the A's dropped a 9-4 decision to Texas and maybe 90 minutes after Norris was knocked off his feet. "The sickness in my stomach has finally gone away, just a few minutes ago.
"But this was the worst pain I'd ever felt."
As is typical of the catcher's breed, Norris is loath to come out of a game for an injury. This time it wasn't an option. Norris was in obvious severe pain when he was led off the field, and it seemed unlikely in the extreme that he could have gone on.
John Jaso, the club's other catcher, took over. It will be Jaso catching the series finale Thursday, and there may not me much support behind him. The A's aren't at all sure they could get a minor league catcher in before the game begins at 1:05 p.m. (CDT). They are even less sure that Norris will be recovered enough to play.
The option then is catcher-turned-third baseman Josh Donaldson.
The A's don't want to put Donaldson, who has been their most productive hitter, in danger by putting him behind the plate if they can avoid it. He made the conversion from catching to playing third base in late spring training two years ago, and he's developed into one of the best third basemen in the league.
"I'm ready," Donaldson said. "I hope Dino's OK, but if he's not, I'm ready."
He has been the D.H. the last six games, ever since coming back from a hamstring injury. In those six games he's 4 for 24 (.167). Overall he's a .209 hitter as a D.H. and .258 when he's in left field.
"He always wants to play in the field," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "But until the trainings give him clearance and say he's ready, he won't be out there."
Asked after Wednesday's game, Melvin said he doubted Cespedes would be in the field in Thursday's series finale.
The manager said that one thing about hamstring injuries is the need to keep the body hydrated, and it could be in the low 90s during the game, making that something of a dicey proposition.
There's a decent chance that Cespedes will return to left field Friday in Seattle.