Pirates Catcher Gives Up Position; Cites Concussion Risk


After suffering his sixth career concussion, Pittsburgh Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli said he wants to move to first base, the outfield, or another less-dangerous position. “I can’t live like this,” he said.

The 33-year-old MLB veteran has played 663 games behind the plate, posting a .358 on-base percentage during those contests.

But Cervelli is currently on the Injured List after he took a broken bat to the chin in a May contest.

Chronic concussions are a problem for other backstops as well. San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey was diagnosed with a concussion earlier this year as well.

And, in 2018, three-time batting champion Joe Maur, of the Minnesota Twins, hung up the cleats for good over this same issue.

After a concussion sent him to the IL for three months, doctors said if he sustained another one, the consequences would be even worse.

In the wake of these developments, Pirates General Manager Neil Huntington proposed a rules change which would enable concussed catchers to re-enter games if doctors cleared them.

Breaking Down CTE

Concussions are Traumatic Brain Injuries.

Sudden blows to the head destroy brain cells. Violent shaking motion has the same effect, as does a sudden loud noise.

Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, on the other hand, is an Acquired Brain Injury.

CTE is the cumulative effect of smaller brain injuries.

Eventually, these victims suffer from serious mental effects, such as depression, memory loss, dementia, and suicidal thoughts.

For several reasons, CTE is very difficult to diagnose.

Since they are so minor and so entrenched in the game, the hits that cause this condition may not raise any red flags.

Ice hockey is a good example.

Many people think fighting causes most hockey concussions.

But that’s not true.

The normal hits that players take during a normal shift cause most National Hockey League player concussions.

Moreover, a brain autopsy is the only way to conclusively prove, or disprove, the presence of CTE.

Obviously, this diagnostic tool is unavailable while the victim is alive.

So, doctors can only use the patient’s symptoms to diagnose this condition.

Sports Concussions and Young Athletes

CTE has forced a long list of professional athletes into early retirement or at least position changes.

Other former players suffer serious symptoms.

This condition is even worse among young athletes with developing brains.

In fact, children who play tackle football before age 12 have a significant risk of developing CTE, or another similar condition, later in life.

These kids suffer from both cognitive dysfunction and mood swings or permanent personality changes.

In light of the growing medical evidence, lawmakers in New York and several other states have proposed legislation which bans, or at least strictly limits, youth tackle football programs.

However, these bills have gained almost no traction and they have almost no chance of becoming law.

As is often the case, when lawmakers are unable to protect children and other vulnerable victims, New York personal injury attorneys stand in the gap.

Legal Claims for Damages in Sports-Related Concussion Matters

Youth sports leagues are supposed to be fun for kids.

They also should be training platforms which give children the skills they need to compete at a higher level.

However, many coaches have a win-at-all-costs mentality that conflicts with the organization’s mission.

This approach puts children at risk, especially if they are athletically talented.

Coaches dislike taking these players out of the game unless it’s absolutely necessary to do so.

When a coach violates principles like these, that violation is evidence of negligence.

Furthermore, under the respondeat superior rule, the organization is liable for any resulting damages.

Often, CTE symptoms do not appear for several decades.

Even though the statute of limitations has expired on injury-related claims against the youth football organization, an attorney is able to revive your claim and vigorously pursue damages.

As mentioned earlier, CTE and other Acquired Brain Injuries are difficult to diagnose.

Overall, misdiagnosis is a serious issue in the New York medical community which affects about a fifth of patients in the Empire State.

Misdiagnosis is especially a problem with regard to degenerative conditions, like cancer and CTE.

Without early and effective intervention, these diseases quickly become unmanageable.

Sports head injuries cause serious injuries later in life.

For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in New York, contact Napoli Shkolnik PLLC. Home and after-hours visits are available.