In the world of team sports, it is commonly understood and acknowledged that the onus of caution is on the organizations and not the individual players. You see these a lot more in football and soccer, where head injuries happen with a higher frequency, but not only with those, but any type of injury, players will always want to be out there.
It is not unheard of, but rare is the occasion when a player removes himself from a situation because he feels something isn’t right. That just does not happen, nor should we expect that out of them. Organizations are there to think about the long-term picture. It’s a good time to talk about this topic because not only recently did the Yankees have a relevant case on the matter, but now we’re getting further info on the Shohei Ohtani situation.
To claim that the Anthony Rizzo situation wasn’t handled properly is a big understatement. Looking beyond the X’s and O’s of his numbers taking a nosedive following the collision with Fernando Tatis Jr., the fact he showed symptoms of something wrong should have been cause for more alarm. Regardless, it was never up for Rizzo to be one to come out and state that there was something wrong with him, following that incident. It was up to the Yankees organization to be the most thorough it could be, and even then, once mostly everything checked out, which it wouldn’t, still be rather cautious on the matter.
More recently, we’ve seen the Los Angeles Angels come out and say they brought up the idea of Ohtani going through an MRI a while back. Ohtani simply refused to do so, with guidance from his agent also. Now, technically the organization cannot force Ohtani to go through the procedure, but surely, there were ways to at the very least compel him to do so.
The Angels didn’t come out with this MRI idea out of nowhere. They had to have had some information to bring that on. We do not know if they brought that to Ohtnai as well, and he dismissed it. Furthermore, the team has the power to simply shut down the player until he goes through what they deem is a necessary, albeit precautionary exam.
Looking at another similar situation this season which was handled differently, Clayton Kershaw missed some time in a precautionary move. Kershaw left a start against the Rockies claiming a bit of discomfort, and afterward, by his account, he could’ve pitched through it, but the Dodgers saw something in his exam that warranted caution. Nothing ever too vocal came out, but it was clear throughout the process that Kershaw wanted to pitch, but he adhered to the organization’s advice and is now back and ready for the stretch run.
We’ve seen the Yankees irritate Luis Severino a little bit with how cautious they’ve been with him in the last year-plus, even on different occasions. Even though most of them have a staff of people to advise them, players will always lean towards being out there at all costs. And whether we’re talking about a pending free agent or the future of a franchise, organizations have to think big-picture at all times, even if it might cost them in the short term.