For the second time in barely two years, an MVP player was helped off the field after slipping on a wet base and suffering an injury while trying to beat out a play at first.
The agent for both players on Monday called out Major League Baseball for taking no action to help prevent another injury.
Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant, a three-time All-Star and the National League MVP in 2016, was diagnosed with a right ankle sprain Sunday after his frightening tumble in a game against the Cardinals and scheduled for an MRI on Monday. Results are expected Tuesday.
In August 2017, Bryce Harper — a midsummer candidate for his second MVP award with the Nationals — suffered a hyperextension of his knee and a bone bruise on a similar play on a rainy day and did not return until the final week of the season.
“What have they done since Harper? The answer is, nothing,” said agent Scott Boras, who lobbied for safety measures in the wake of Harper’s injury. “They’re focused on other factors, economic factors, all things relating to how they can administer the game, and yet the safety of players and resolution of this issue has gone without any attention.
“The integrity of our game is going to [be] damaged when the safety of players is not at the forefront, and Major League Baseball has dropped the ball on the wet-bag subject.”
If anything, the risk might have increased with the emphasis this season on playing through adverse weather whenever possible to avoid the glut of postponements and late-season makeup games that some teams, including the Cubs, saw in 2018.
“They had notice of this. These are star players. What have they done to protect these players?” said Boras, who suggested — as he did in 2017 — that umpires at least be required to oversee regular toweling of bases during wet weather.
Some also have suggested a different, softer bag be used, a measure that might also mitigate hand injuries, such as the fractured thumb Javy Baez suffered Sept. 1 while sliding into second.
MLB said that the issue has been discussed internally, in particular since Harper’s injury, and that the league remains aware of the issue, while such injuries remain infrequent.
“To date, no one has come up with a bag that has proven to be better safety-wise than the bag we use now,” an MLB spokesman said Monday.
In both cases, key players for teams in playoff contention sprinted full speed down the line to try to beat throws to first, then hit the bags hard and immediately lost traction, causing the injuries.
“The issue for me is they’ve done nothing,” Boras said. “They have completely skirted this issue. They had an MVP player having an MVP season dramatically get hurt and miss time. It affects playoff races and the entire safety of players and the integrity of the game. When they are very diligent to get umpires and teams to play during rain, during precipitation, trying to get the games played.
“There’s been no discussion, no resolution, absolutely nothing done in this area except the player is to bear the burden of slippery and wet bags.”