After Ruben Tejada was hit by a pitch square in the head on Wednesday, keeping him out of the lineup for at least Thursday, the response from the New York Mets was to keep him on the active roster while recalling Wilmer Flores to play shortstop on Thursday at the expense of Kirk Nieuwenhuis. With more concussion awareness throughout the sports world, the Mets were wrong not to immediately put Tejada on the seven-day concussion DL, and they need to amend that mistake as soon as possible.
In fairness, Tejada appeared fine after the game and has since passed a concussion test. But getting strike in the head by a pitch is nothing to take lightly, especially when it cracked Tejada’s helmet, even if he ultimately passed a concussion test. Moreover, the Mets should know from their experience with Ryan Church in 2008 that concussion symptoms don’t always occur immediately and that it can be risky to fly immediately after a head injury, which Tejada and the team did on Wednesday.
The seven-day concussion DL was instituted by MLB for occasions such as this, when teams like the Mets should be encouraged to be a little extra cautious and know they won’t lose a player for a full 15 days. The Mets had no problem putting Travis d’Arnaud on the seven-day concussion DL earlier in the season, so why not do the same with Tejada? It’s not as if he is a key player they can’t live without for a week and want to rush back.
The move also makes no sense from a player personnel perspective. Instead of putting Tejada on the DL and bringing up Flores to get regular at-bats at shortstop, a move that should have been done three weeks ago when Flores was red hot in triple-A, the Mets had to demote Nieuwenhuis in order to bring up Flores. At this point, Nieuwenhuis is a better option to play left field than a couple other players the Mets are giving playing time to, most notably Chris Young, so losing him from the roster is not a helpful move when it could be avoided by putting Tejada on the DL.
The Mets could get Nieuwenhuis back by putting Tejada on the DL. That move would also give Flores a week of playing time without having to worry about losing his spot, which may be just what he needs to get going offensively. There’s also the issue of being cautious with a head injury, which is the main reason why the Mets made a mistake by not putting Tejada on the DL and why they need to rectify that mistake immediately.