WASHINGTON — Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred joined Jim Rome on CBS Sports Radio on Tuesday to discuss the combination of events that led to Washington Nationals star outfielder Bryce Harper’s injury on Saturday night.
In the game, rain led to slick conditions on the base paths, particularly on top of the bases. When Harper stretched the beat out a throw to first base, he slipped, hyperextended his knee and landed in a heap. He was diagnosed with a bone bruise, but the situation clearly could have been much worse.
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Manfred paid lip service to the idea of preventing injuries in the future but clearly was not ready to commit to any sort of rule or regulation change.
“I think with this one, you know it’s one of those freak things,” he said. “Y’know, two players heading for the bag at the same time and just putting his foot down at the wrong spot in relation to the bag, it’s hard to know how you can prevent an injury like that.
“Look, you always hate to see any player, particularly a player of Bryce’s caliber, get injured during that part of the season that leads into our exciting postseason. I’m very grateful that the injury doesn’t appear to be quite as serious as originally feared, and I’m hopeful that Bryce will be back for some of the season and the postseason.”
At least Manfred acknowledges that baseball as a whole–not just the Nationals–dodged a bullet with this injury. Imagine a Harper-free postseason, Harper-free Opening Day and a Harper-free, D.C.-hosted All-Star break. That’s easily worth millions of dollars to the sport.
Rather than committing to any specific changes that address wet bases, base surfaces, playing during and after rain, etc., Manfred fell back on MLB’s ongoing commitment to players safety.
“Look, we are always looking for ways to improve the safety of our players on the field,” Manfred said. “Obviously we’ve made a couple of important changes in recent years, the home plate collision rule and then the changes surrounding plays at 2nd base.”
Just don’t expect changes to one thing that’s involved every time a ball is put into play.