Baseball's ownership and players, working in tandem, have established a series of protocols that should help prevent the premature return of concussed players and umpires.
Most notably, baseball has added a seven-day disabled list -- on a trial basis for 2011 -- for players who have suffered concussions. This provides teams a way to protect players with concussions while not committing them to the longer, 15-day disabled list; clubs can replace this player on their roster. If a player's stint on the seven-day disabled list extends to a 15th day, then the player automatically will transfer to the 15-day DL.
"I like it," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said from Steinbrenner Field in Tampa. "Because sometimes, that two or three days where a guy can't play -- or four or five -- can really put you in a hole where you don't want to send him down for 15 days. I think it's great.''
Added Yankees catcher Russell Martin: "I like it. I think it's smart. It gives a team a way of maneuvering things and that way, you don't lose two weeks of baseball if you don't have to. It's being proactive.''
Twins star Justin Morneau, who missed the second half of last season with a concussion, said: "The one thing you don't want to do is put someone in position the day after or two days later all of a sudden by saying, 'Are you feeling OK?' The worst thing you can do with a concussion is rush back to play. You're diagnosed and you have a week and if it clears up, like most people hope it does and they usually do, with most people it's short-term, that's the best-case scenario."
The teams and players also announced: 1) mandatory baseline neuropsychological testing requirements for players and umpires during spring training, or when a player joins a club during the season; 2) protocols for evaluating players and umpires for a possible concussion; and 3) protocols for clearing a concussed player or umpire to return to activity.
Though not as susceptible as football to concussions, baseball has experienced its share of head injuries and the accompanying scrutiny. Most notably, the 2008 Mets kept outfielder Ryan Church on the active roster even after Church suffered his second concussion of the season and complained of classic symptoms (fatigue, imbalance).
"Player safety is a major concern of the collective-bargaining parties, and these new protocols and procedures should enhance our ongoing efforts to protect the health of players and umpires," players association executive director Michael Weiner said in a statement.
Added commissioner Bud Selig: "This policy, which reflects the collective expertise of many of the foremost authorities in the field, will benefit players, umpires and clubs alike, and I am proud of the spirit of cooperation that has led us to this result."
With Erik Boland and AP