Concussion policy worked perfectly

Brewers utility man Erick Almonte became the first Major Leaguer placed on the new seven-day disabled list for concussions after he was struck in the face by a thrown ball during batting practice on Tuesday.

The Brewers followed the league’s new concussion policy and in this case it worked flawlessly, assistant general manager Gord Ash said. Brewers physician Dr. Mark Niedfeldt was already en route to Miller Park when Almonte was hurt, and he ran the player through a standard concussion test and impact test and forwarded a report to MLB medical director Dr. Gary Green.

Green reviewed the information and authorized the Brewers to make the move. About 20 minutes before Tuesday’s first pitch, the team reinstated Corey Hart from the 15-day disabled list to take Almonte’s spot. Hart, who missed the start of the season with a rib-cage strain, just happened to be in town a day early, fresh off a rehabilitation assignment with Triple-A Nashville.

“In this instance, the system worked exactly as it was supposed to,” Ash said.

The policy, instituted on Opening Day, was developed during the offseason by a committee of experts that included Brewers head athletic trainer Roger Caplinger. It oversees the manner in which concussions are diagnosed initially, and governs when players and umpires can return to the field following a concussion.

The biggest change is the creation of a seven-day disabled list for concussions, which is being used on a trial basis this season. If a player spends more than 14 days on the seven-day disabled list, the player will be retroactively transferred to the 15-day disabled list.

“It was developed in cooperation with the Player’s Association to address the issue of concussions,” Ash said. “A lot of times in the past, the issue was that there was reluctance on the part of the player to go on the 15-day disabled list with a concussion because it wouldn’t be that long.”

Most concussions last 5-10 days, Ash said.

The new policy also dictates mandatory baseline neuropsychological testing requirements for players and umpires during Spring Training, which allow teams to conduct comparative tests in the event of a head injury. When Almonte is deemed healthy, the Brewers will have to submit a “Return to Play” form to Dr. Green for review.

The Brewers are well-versed in concussions. In 2006, third baseman Corey Koskie suffered a head injury on a seemingly innocuous slide and it essentially ended his baseball career. That experience influenced their handling of outfielder Carlos Gomez last season, after Gomez was struck in the head by a pitch.


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