MILWAUKEE — Brewers utility man Erick Almonte went home to sleep under supervision after becoming the first major leaguer placed on the new seven-day disabled list for concussions.
“We had somebody spend the night with him last night and we didn’t get a call, which is good,” Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said Wednesday. “Any time you have a concussion, the doctors now really don’t like you to spend the night (alone).”
Almonte was hit in the forehead by a ball thrown by third baseman Craig Counsell during batting practice Tuesday. Almonte spent several minutes on the field before getting up and walking gingerly to the clubhouse, becoming dizzy and nauseous.
Almonte doesn’t remember the moments just after being struck.
“I know I was taking the ball from Counsell and the next thing I remember, I was on the ground,” Almonte said after Tuesday night’s game. “I just took my eyes off the ball for a couple of seconds and boom, it hit me right in the forehead.”
He was diagnosed with a Grade 1 concussion, the most common type. Symptoms generally clear in five to seven days, part of the reason the new DL was established.
MLB and the players’ union announced a new set of protocols just before the start of the season to deal with the head injuries, including the creation of the new seven-day disabled list to give team doctors and injured players more flexibility to address concussions. An MLB spokesman confirmed Almonte is the first player on the new list.
Concussions have been a priority across professional sports leagues with the NFL imposing heavy fines and threatening suspensions for hits that were deemed illegal or dangerous last season, while the NHL has implemented new evaluation guidelines and banned blindside hits that target an opponent’s head. The NBA plans to look into establishing league-wide protocols this offseason.
MLB requires baseline testing for all players and umpires, and imposed new steps for evaluating players who may have suffered concussions and for having them return to action.
The seven-day disabled list is besides the 15- and 60-day DLs that already exist. Any player needing more than 14 days to recover is automatically transferred to the 15-day disabled list.
“(It’s) really smart for the player and the team to have this seven-day option,” Roenicke said. “It’s just so much safer to put a guy on for seven days. Maybe he’ll only need four or five. But to give him an extra two, three days to be safe is really smart. I don’t know who came up with it, but I thought that was a great thing.”