The New York Yankees appear to be taking concussions very seriously these days. The team was keeping a very close watch on backup catcher Francisco Cervelli, who was back in action at spring training Tuesday after sustaining a concussion over the weekend when he was hit in the head with a pitch. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/10/sports/baseball/10yankees.html?ref=sports
Yankee manager Joe Girardi told The New York Times that he and team officials planned to closely monitor Cervelli, who has suffered at least three concussions since 2005. They want to make sure that he doesn’t get the dizziness and headaches that he had Saturday after his injury.
Cervelli was checked by a team neurosurgeon Monday, who cleared the way for the player to return to the field. He also underwent an ImPACT test, a computer evaluation that monitors memory, reaction time and processing speed.
The good news about baseball and concussions is that they don’t happen as often as in football and soccer. The bad news is that many baseball injuries are potentially life threatening because the force involved is so significant.
But the one position that is vulnerable to repeat concussion is the catcher. Not because they are any more likely to be hit by a pitch, but because what they do in blocking the plate. If baseball wanted to make the game more brain safe, they could change the rule and not allow catchers to interfere with a player sliding into home. It is a long tradition, but certainly not as key to the game as the three point stance in football. Yet the NFL is considering banning that. Baseball could be proactive too. It might may a material difference for a “hard headed” player like Cervelli.