MLB announced today that teams will be able to place players who suffer concussions on a seven-day disabled list this season in addition to the standard 15-day and 60-day disabled lists, with the new option being used on a “trial basis.”
According to the announcement the shorter DL option is intended “to allow concussions to clear, prevent players from returning prematurely, and give the clubs a full complement of players in one’s absence.”
Players on the seven-day DL will be transferred to the 15-day DL once they’ve been sidelined for more than seven days, but the abbreviated DL stint will hopefully make teams more willing to shut a player down once post-concussion symptoms surface. In the past some players have remained on the active roster following concussions because the team wasn’t sure they’d need to miss the full 15 days.
Also of note is that, according to Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times, the new concussion policy “also requires players to take a baseline neurological examination each spring and whenever they join a new team” and “establishes protocols for evaluating players and umpires for possible concussions and for clearing affected players and umpires to return.”
All in all, a very nice step in the right direction after concussions unfortunately sidelined numerous players last year, including knocking Justin Morneau of the Twins and Jason Bay of the Mets out for months and ending Cardinals catcher Jason LaRue’s career.
The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.
In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.
The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.
Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”
It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.
It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.