Giants not planning payback in rematch vs. Marlins

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The San Francisco Giants take on the Florida Marlins in a three-game series beginning Friday.

At first glance, this might not seem like much of a series, what with the Marlins entering the weekend on a seven-game losing streak, and the Giants preparing to face the talented Atlanta Braves early next week. But then we are reminded that this is the first meeting between the two teams since late May, a fateful series that saw San Francisco lose star catcher Buster Posey on a controversial play at the plate.

When Scott Cousins barreled into Posey, it knocked the young star out for the season, effectively changed the Giants’ season and also caused Brian Sabean to lose his mind.

So much has changed with these two teams, though. Jack McKeon is running the show in Florida and Cousins has been out since June with a back injury. And the Giants have replaced Posey’s bat – if not his leadership – with Carlos Beltran (who is also now hurt).

So now, with the teams meeting for the first time since then, should we expect some fireworks? In a word, no.

“We’ve moved on,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy told Andrew Baggerly of the San Jose Mercury News. “We have bigger things to be worried about. That’s trying to win and get to the postseason. What happened is behind us.”

More from Baggerly:

Posey, after two surgeries to repair torn ankle ligaments, isn’t looking back, either. He declined multiple interview requests as the Florida series loomed. Posey is only now beginning to put weight on his left foot, but other wounds haven’t healed. He still hasn’t reached out to return Cousins’ apologetic phone call.

“Buster wants to move forward, and I’m proud of how these guys have not dwelled on what happened,” Bochy said. “When you lose your starting catcher and cleanup hitter, it’s devastating.”

In truth, the Giants have a lot more to worry about than the Florida Marlins. With a dramatic victory over the Houston Astros on Thursday night, the D-backs have taken a full game lead in the NL West, and they don’t appear to be going anywhere.

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Neal Huntington thinks players should be allowed to re-enter games after concussion testing

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Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli, who has suffered many concussions throughout his 12-year career, was hit on the back of the helmet on a Joc Pederson backswing Saturday against the Dodgers. Through Cervelli remained in the game initially, he took himself out of the game shortly thereafter and went on the seven-day concussion injured list on Sunday.

Perhaps inspired by Saturday’s event, Pirates GM Neal Huntington suggested that players should be allowed to re-enter games once they have passed concussion tests, the Associated Press reports. Huntington said, “Any player that had an obvious concussion risk incident should be allowed to be removed from the game, taken off the field, taken into the locker room, assessed by a doctor, assessed by a trainer, go through an extended period of time and then re-enter the game. Because right now, all of this has to happen on the field.”

Huntington added, “The player has to feel pressure as he’s standing there with 30,000 or 10,000 or 50,000 eyes on him. He has to feel pressure to make a decision whether (he’s) in or (he’s) out of this game. 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, who has been forward-thinking on a number of other issues, has it wrong here. The concussion protocols were created because players frequently hid or under-reported their injuries in order to remain in the game. Especially for younger or otherwise less-proven players, there is pressure to have to constantly perform in order to keep one’s job. Furthermore, there is an overarching sentiment across sports that taking time off due to injury makes one weak. Similarly, playing while injured is seen as tough and masculine. Creating protocols that take the decision-making out of players’ hands keeps them from making decisions that aren’t in their own best interests. Removing them would bring back that pressure for players to hide or minimize their ailments. If anything, MLB’s concussion protocols should become more stringent, not more relaxed.

The powers that be with Major League Baseball have no doubt followed the concussion scandal surrounding the National Football League. In January, the NFL settled for over $1 billion with retired players dealing with traumatic brain injuries, including dementia, Lou Gehrig’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease. For years, the league refused to acknowledge the link between playing football and CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy), which is a neurodegenerative disease that can lead to dementia and has many negative effects, such as increasing the risk of suicide. Since baseball isn’t often a contact sport, MLB doesn’t have to worry about brain injuries to this degree, but it still needs to take preventative measures in order to avoid billion-dollar lawsuits as well as avoiding P.R. damage. In December 2012, former major league outfielder Ryan Freel committed suicide. Freel, who claimed to have suffered as many as 10 concussions, suffered from CTE. MLB players can suffer brain injuries just like football players.

Huntington seems to be worried about not having enough rostered catchers in the event one or two catchers get injured. That is really an issue of roster management. Carrying only two catchers on the roster is a calculated risk, often justified. Huntington can ensure his team never has to be put in the position of not having a catcher in an emergency by rostering a third catcher. Rosters are expanding to 26 players next year, by the way.