Kyle Kendrick apologizes for showing up Ryne Sandberg

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Phillies pitcher Kyle Kendrick was throwing well through five innings in Saturday’s start against the Giants, holding them to one run. He entered the sixth with a 5-1 lead, but all hell broke loose. Buster Posey led off with a single, then Pablo Sandoval hit a mile-high pop-up to the right side of the infield. Both second baseman Chase Utley and first baseman Ryan Howard came after it, but the ball dropped between them. Utley picked up the ball and quickly made a back-hand flip to second base in attempt to secure the force out, but it was wide and dragged shortstop Jimmy Rollins off of the bag, allowing both runners to reach safely. Mike Morse followed up with an RBI double to make it 5-2 and put runners on second and third.

Manager Ryne Sandberg came out to the mound to get Kendrick. As is customary, the pitcher waits on the mound before handing off the ball to his manager, but a frustrated Kendrick was already on his way off the field before Sandberg could reach the mound. Lefty reliever Mario Hollands came in, but the Giants kept scoring, and the Phillies ultimately lost 6-5.

Kendrick apologized for showing up his manager and explained his frustration afterwards. Via CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury:

“We talked,” Kendrick said before Sunday afternoon’s game. “I know it wasn’t the right thing to do.”

[…]

“Obviously you want the ball caught, but I was just upset at coming out of the game,” he said. “The ball falling in had nothing to do with it. I didn’t handle it right.”

[…]

“He wanted to see where I was at,” Kendrick said. “I didn’t want to come out of the game. I wasn’t trying to show up Ryno. That wasn’t my intention. I was upset and I wanted to get where no one could see me as quick as possible.

“Everything’s been kind of building up. It’s been a tough year for us and me personally. You’ve got to keep fighting, but little stuff irritates you.”

Following Saturday’s start, Kendrick has a 5-11 record with a 4.90 ERA and a 91/44 K/BB ratio in 154 1/3 innings over 25 starts. He can become a free agent after the season. Given the Phillies’ status as non-contenders for the foreseeable future, it seems unlikely that the team would bring him back in 2015. As a result, Kendrick is essentially auditioning for prospective teams over the remaining month and a half of the season.

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.