MLB Concussions

With the World Series upon us, it is a good time to take a look back at the concussion issue as it relates to Major League Baseball.

The sport of baseball is not what we classify as a collision sport, even though there are some “train-wrecks” at home plate and accidents in the field.  We can reasonably expect the concussion rate to be much lower, and it is.  In this past season, there were only 10 concussions listed on the official MLB injury list.  If you take a 25-man roster and multiply that by the 3o teams, you get 750 total players (we know that teams will have more at times due to call-ups and other injuries).  The rate for concussion based on a 25-man roster is 1.3% and for the 40-man roster it is 0.8%, and as you can see that is well below being classified as a major problem.

However, these concussions that occur in baseball seem to last a lot longer.  Justin Morneau of the Minnesota Twins had his season basically cut in half this year due to a concussion.  Both Mike Matheny and Jason Larue were forced into retirement after multiple concussive episodes.  Some of their injuries came from something as innocuous as a foul tip off the mask.

Now MLB wants to possibly shorten the disabled list stint for a concussion.  Shouldn’t it be a longer stay?  Chris Getz, Jason Bay, Nate McClouth, and Justin Morneau all lasted longer than seven days.

The problem is not the stay but the identification and classification of the concussion.  I mention Chris Getz, who was concussed September 15 and never was officially placed on the DL for a concussion.  Could there be more concussions in MLB?  Absolutely.  Could the proposed concussion DL rules help identify these concussions?  Sure.

We will have to wait and see how teams and baseball handle this going forward.  Looking back, you may notice that this issue was possibly overlooked.

Official MLB DL listings for Concussions since 2001

(compiled by The Concussion Blog Editor & Lead Researcher Mike Lutz)

2001 Season

None reported.

2002 Season

6/4/02  SF Placed IF Ramon Martinez on the 15-day DL (concussion)

2003 Season

6/6/03  ARI Placed OF David Dellucci on the 15-day DL (concussion)

6/8/03  CHC Placed 1B Hee Seop Choi on 15-day DL (concussion)

6/28/03  FLA Placed RHP Kevin Olsen on the 15-day DL (concussion)

2004 Season

None reported.

2005 Season

4/12/05  MIN Placed 1B Justin Morneau on the 15-day DL (concussion)

7/15/05  CHC Placed OF Adam Greenberg on the 15-day DL (concussion)

8/11/05  NYM Placed OF Mike Cameron on the 15-day DL (concussion)

8/29/05  CLE Recalled RHP Kyle Denney from Triple-A Buffalo and placed him on 60-day DL (post-concussive symptoms)

2006 Season

6/26/06  SF Placed C Mike Matheny on the 15-day DL (concussion)

2007 Season

4/1/07  MIL Placed 3B Corey Koskie on the 15-day DL (post-concussion syndrome)

5/2/07  ATL Placed C Brayan Pena on the 15-day DL (concussion)

8/11/07  COL Placed INF/OF Jeff Baker on the 15-day DL (concussion)

8/11/07  SD Placed C Michael Barrett on the 15-day DL (concussion)

8/14/07  CIN Placed C David Ross on the 15-day DL (concussion)

2008 Season

6/10/08  NYM Placed OF Ryan Church on the 15-day DL (post-concussion syndrome)

7/2/08  HOU Placed C Humberto Quintero on the 15-day DL (concussion)

8/9/08  LAA Placed OF Reggie Willits on the 15-day DL (concussion)

2009 Season

4/10/09  SF Placed RHP Joe Martinez on the 15-day DL (concussion)

7/20/09  SD Placed 2B Edgar Gonzalez on the 15-day DL (concussion)

8/8/09  CIN Placed 3B Scott Rolen on the 15-day DL (concussion)

8/17/09  NYM Placed 3B David Wright on the 15-day DL (post-concussion symptoms)

8/19/09  LAD Placed RHP Hiroki Kuroda on the 15-day DL (concussion)

8/24/09  CIN Placed C Ryan Hanigan on the 15-day DL (concussion)

2010 Season

4/24/10  LAA Placed C Bobby Wilson on the 15-day DL (concussion)

4/25/10  PIT Placed RHP Chris Jakubauskas on the 15-day DL (head contusion and concussion)

6/12/10  ATL Placed CF Nate McLouth on the 15-DL (concussion-like symptoms)

6/22/10  PHI placed C Carlos Ruiz on the 15-day DL (concussion)

7/16/10  MIN placed 1B Justin Morneau on the 15-day DL (concussion)

7/22/10  PIT Placed C Ryan Doumit on the 15-day D (concussion)

7/25/10  SF Placed LF Eugenio Velez on the 15-day DL (head contusion and concussion)

7/30/10  NYM Placed LF Jason Bay on the 15-day DL (concussion)

8/6/10  MIL Placed CF Carlos Gomez on the 15-day DL (concussion)

8/13/10  STL Placed C Jason LaRue on the 15-day DL (concussion)

MLB Considering Shorter DL for Concussion

Major League Baseball has a unique problem when dealing with concussions… the disabled list. The DL can be so complex it warrants its own Wikipedia entry (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disabled_list). The MLB season is a long grind – days and days of back-to-back games for months on end…yet the shortest stay clubs can place an athlete on the DL is 15 days, which can create roster management problems. For this reason, many clubs are forced to do what they can to avoid sending someone to the DL who really doesn’t need to be there for a full 15 days. Making a DL decision with a concussion can be more complicated than with a “run-of-the-mill” orthopedic injury.  Clubs have been hesitant to diagnose a concussion when one occurs due to the unpredictable recovery rate. But according to reports surfacing today, it appears MLB is preparing to create a shorter DL stay for players with head injuries. Initial reactions appear to be positive, and from what I can tell, seems to be a step in the right direction. This fundamental change would allow clubs the flexibility to wait out every symptom and not rush an athlete back before they should because of  roster management reasons.

AP Report via ABCNews