Neal Huntington is looking to change how MLB handles concussion protocol during games.
The Pirates general manager said he thinks players should be able to re-enter games if they clear concussion protocol at the ballpark.
“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 said, via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “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’s comments come after Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli suffered a concussion Sunday night but remained in the game until his next at-bat.
Once a player is taken out of a game, he’s out for good. Huntington said the player should be able to return if he’s cleared to do so and feels well enough.
“We’ve talked about it internally. We’ve not presented it to Major League Baseball,” Huntington said. “I’m sure now I’m going to get some phone calls, ‘Why didn’t you call us first?’
“We do think there should be consideration for a rule change that allows an obvious concussion assessment process to happen.”
Huntington also brought up how in other professional sports, such as the NFL, NHL and NBA, players are allowed to go back in the game if they are cleared – though those leagues’ rules allow re-entry no matter why a player leaves the game, unlike MLB rules.
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“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 be understanding what that actually means.”
However, there is a concern that a player won’t be honest so he could try and stay in the game.
“The biggest thing is just to be able to take the right (amount of) time and to not have the player or the trainer on the field making that assessment,” Huntington said. “Once a player comes off the field, there is a protocol he goes through automatically off the field.
“What we are suggesting is for an obvious concussion assessment scenario, you’re able to leave the game, the backup goes into the game, and then if that starter is cleared, he can go back into the game, whether he’s the left fielder, the first baseman or the catcher.”
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