PITTSBURGH -- Cardinals manager Mike Matheny estimates that he suffered 25-30 concussions during his playing career, most of those the result of contact during collisions he sustained at home plate.
Though his career was cut short because of the side effects of concussions, Matheny never regretted playing the position the way he did. Standing in and taking the impact of a hit was, as Matheny saw it, his job.
It was also Matheny's job as a catching instructor in the Cardinals' organization to teach players how to take those hits.
"I know the value of that play," he said. "It saves a run, but it goes deeper than that."
But a change in position has produced a change in perspective. And after watching Yadier Molina come off the field woozy, achy and suffering from a neck strain following a hit put on him by incoming runner Josh Harrison on Tuesday night, Matheny doesn't see the play as he used to.
"As a manager, I'd like to take those [earlier] thoughts and flush them, because I watch our catcher -- and how valuable a piece he is to us -- get trucked like that, and it's hard to watch," Matheny said. "I see why [Giants manager] Bruce Bochy is very outspoken about, 'Let's start making it mandatory to avoid that collision.' The game may go that way, especially with the heightened awareness of concussions and people understanding that it's not just a concussion, it's a brain injury.
Bochy became vocal about home-plate collisions last season, shortly after his own catcher, Buster Posey, suffered a season-ending leg injury while trying to block the plate. Afterward, Bochy, a former catcher, spoke out about the need to alter the rules so that baserunners would not be allowed to run directly into catchers.
He has since also directed Posey not to block the plate, even if it means sacrificing a run.
"Is there something that could be done? Probably," Matheny said. "And it's probably only been in the last six months that I've changed my viewpoint on it."