Experts in the field of concussion management strongly criticized the Mets on Tuesday for their handling of Ryan Church, saying that he has been put at significant medical risk by continuing to play through dizziness, lethargy and headaches.
Church sustained what the team called a mild concussion on May 20 against the Braves. While sliding into second base, his head slammed into the knee of an opponent and then fell hard onto the dirt. He missed the next game, but volunteered to pinch-hit four times since . . .
. . . Several experts in sports-related concussions, however, said that Church — who has told reporters that he has had a headache and has felt dizzy and tired almost every day since his injury — should not have been allowed to play at all because his symptoms had not cleared . . .
. . . “It’s his call,” Randolph said. He added: “He’s been feeling a little bit groggy, and most of what he feels is that uneasiness with his total, you know, mind. It’s kind of weird because he feels like he’s kind of foggy. He says he can hit, he can do that. But in the outfield, he’s unstable out there.”
Randolph added: “When you’re talking about head injuries, I’m pretty lame on that. I don’t even know how to respond to, you know, when we can put him out there.”
We should be cautious about throwing around accusations here because second-guessing diagnoses without, you know, actually having examined the patient is a questionable endeavor, but if the experts are right and Church is truly at risk, this is a far greater indictment of Mets' management than keeping Willie Randolph around. If you doubt that, the NYT concludes the piece with a reminder of the stakes involved:
Corey Koskie can testify to that. After sustaining a concussion in July 2006 while playing for the Brewers, Koskie attempted to come back despite symptoms including headaches, dizziness and nausea. He experienced far more severe symptoms for six months, and eventually had to retire.
“That’s pretty much the reason I’m here today — thinking I could play through it,” Koskie said in a telephone interview from his home in Minnesota.
Regarding Church, he added: “I think he’s nuts. He doesn’t want to get to the point where he’s not going to get better. Tell him to call me. It’s not worth it.”