Carlos Ruiz left the game in the first inning on Wednesday, April 27, 2011 due to a back injury.
There’s been a lot of chatter lately about the recent collision involving Florida Marlins’ outfielder Scott Cousins and San Francisco Giants’ catcher Buster Posey that left Posey with a broken ankle and an early end to his season.
The responses have been all over the place. Giants’ manager Bruce Bochy wants to change the rules to protect the catchers. Giants’ GM Brian Sabean essentially hopes that Scott Cousins never plays again, and Oakland A’s GM Billy Beane just wants his catchers to stay out of the way.
But Carlos Ruiz? He wants to do his job and win, even if it means risking injury.
"When the game is on the line, I don't think you're going to [do anything differently]. You're the catcher. You're going to want to stay there. You're going to stay because you want to win. So it's hard to think that way because everything happens real fast," he added philosophically.
"If not, don't be a catcher. If you're going to catch, you have to love catching. Everything about it. It's hard. It's not easy. But you have to do it."
For all the talk coming from people who aren’t on the field, it’s refreshing to hear it from a player who runs the risk of getting steamrolled by an opposing player on a daily basis. Although Chooch isn’t speaking for the union of catchers as a whole, I’d prefer his opinion over a guy who sits comfortably in the luxury box for nine innings.
However, I understand the safety aspect of it and the need to want to protect the players. If you’re the MLB, and you’ve got a multi-billion dollar industry in front of you, then making sure your franchise players are able to take the field every day is priority one.
That brings me to my next point: If Buster Posey wasn’t Buster Posey, would anyone have noticed?
Phils’ bullpen coach Mick Billmeyer doesn’t think so.
"And I'll be honest with you. He's the cleanup hitter in their lineup. I'm not sure they're talking about it day in and day out if it's the backup catcher. If it was Eli Whiteside or Dane Sardinha or Brian Schneider, I don't think they'd talk about it."
He makes a good point, because catcher collisions happen all the time, yet you rarely hear about it with such fervor unless the victim is Posey or Joe Mauer or the Golden Boy de Jour is. If Schneider got layed out by Prince Fielder, then the story dies within a couple of days.
I remember watching a game a few years ago where Shane Victorino nearly knocked Brian McCann unconscious at home plate, and I don't recall hearing a word about it. It didn’t result in McCann missing the rest of the season, but it was still a hard hit that could have been damaging for either player.
Point is, players are going to get hurt. It was unfortunate for Posey, one of the game’s great young players, it was unfortunate for Cousins, a guy who now has to deal with the infamy that resulted from his actions, and it’s unfortunate for us because we need to hear about it seven times a day from every person with an opinion – myself included.
But at the end of the day, all the rule changes in the world aren’t going to prevent two guys from meeting at home plate with the game on the line.