Joe Mauer On The Disabled List, Concussions On The Rise For MLB Catchers

By Caroline Ponessa
Jesse Johnson – USA Today Sports

Joe Mauer is not the only MLB catcher currently recovering from a solid bell-ringing behind the plate.

The fourth Minnesota Twins player and second Twins catcher (Ryan Doumit just recovered) to be sidelined for a concussion, Mauer contributes to a laundry list of MLB catchers waiting for the fog to clear.

Catchers constitute 10 of the 18 players placed on the disabled list for concussions during the 2013 season. Catchers currently on the list alongside Mauer are Carlos Corporan and Max Stassi of the Houston Astros and John Jaso of the Oakland Athletics. Recently activated after receiving concussions behind the plate are David Ross of the Boston Red Sox, Alex Avila of the Detroit Tigers, Yorvit Torrealba of the Colorado Rockies, and Doumit of the Twins.

With concussion rates on the rise, questions have been raised about the protective quality of major league catching masks.

Mauer, along with at least four of the other catchers sidelined this season with concussions, recently made the switch from a steel mask to one made of titanium.

The titanium mask, while considerably lighter and supposedly stronger, is a favorite of Doumit who likely encouraged Mauer to make the switch.

The hockey style mask is currently believed to be the all-around most protective mask as it also shields catchers from blows to the jaw, though few catchers in the league choose to wear it.

Catchers are frequently dinged in the head, so whether the titanium masks are entirely to blame is unlikely. It is clear, however, that further research needs to be done and catchers may need to begin sacrificing comfort for safety.

The repercussions are simply not worth the risk. Mauer’s painstaking recovery has caused Twins management to consider moving him out from behind the plate in order to preserve his major league career, not to mention his quality of life.

However, only so much can be done. Catchers willingly put themselves behind the plate, knowing they will have 90 plus mile per hour baseballs constantly flying at their noggins. Injuries are a part of the game, and concussions just come with the territory. Unfortunately for catchers, the home base for concussions is exactly that — home base.

Caroline Ponessa is a Minnesota Twins writer for Follow her on Twitter @sweetCaro_____

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