Pirates general manager Neal Huntington (Jared Wickerham / Getty Images)
Concussions have become a major topic in sports over the last several years, mainly in football. But the Pittsburgh Pirates general manager would like to see concussions discussed more in baseball, particularly when it comes to catchers.
On Saturday, Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli got his seventh concussion since the start of the 2015 season when he was hit in the head by a broken bat. He played for another half-inning after getting the concussion.
“The player has to feel pressure, as he’s standing there with 10,000 or 30,000 or 50,000 eyes on him, to make a decision, ‘Am I in or out of this game?’ ” Huntington told the Athletic on Sunday. “He knows if he takes himself out and he’s the catcher, there’s only one other catcher, and the game becomes a fiasco if that other catcher gets hurt.”
Huntington would like for a player to be able to come out of the game if there is a fear he has a concussion and, if that player passes a concussion test by the training staff in the clubhouse, be allowed to return. Current baseball rules do not allow a player who is removed from the game to return for any reason.
“It used to be, you’d get your bell rung and you’d stay in,” Huntington said. “We shouldn’t do that anymore. We should understand what that actually means. Our players’ safety should be first and foremost.”
Huntington knows some will argue against a new rule, like some argue against a 10-day injured list, which some teams have abused to give their pitchers extra rest.
“We’re going to abuse it — not necessarily [the Pirates], but as an industry, teams will abuse it. And it changes tradition. I probably should’ve had some behind-the-scenes conversations before having a public one today, but now it’s out there so, hopefully, there will be a dialogue.”