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Girardi believes MLB teams should carry 3 catchers

The Yankees manager proposes a rule change to allow teams to carry 3 catchers
08/21/2014 1:13 PM ET
By Lou DiPietro

Brian McCann's recent concussion has caused Joe Girardi to think about a rule change to MLB rosters.(AP)
Injuries to both Francisco Cervelli and Brian McCann have forced Yankees manager Joe Girardi to use four catchers this season, and injuries to Mark Teixeira and Kelly Johnson have forced him to use both McCann and Cervelli at first base for extended periods.

So, then, would it surprise you if Girardi said he was in favor of carrying more than two catchers?

It shouldn't, because when asked Tuesday about how McCann's recent concussion has affected his outlook on catchers and head injuries, Girardi proposed a somewhat radical idea for a future roster change.

"I actually had a thought the other day when Brian got hurt, and I think there should be a third catcher here that's not on the roster," the skipper said. "If a guy gets concussed you can activate him to the roster, but he's not allowed to play unless the second guy gets hurt too."

One member of the media likened it to a version of the NFL's rules on quarterbacks, where a team's third QB is technically "inactive," but can come in if the starter and top reserve are both hurt - and in reality, Girardi's argument for it makes sense.

"Catchers are different … it's not like you can throw anyone behind home plate," he said. "Not saying I would do this, but pitchers have taken fly balls for years, so if you got to a certain point where you were down to your last player or you were out of outfielders, you could put a pitcher out there - but you're sure not going to put one behind the plate, and you don't want to put your shortstop or second baseman back there either."

While it's likely very rare that a team would lose both catchers in the same game, it has happened in the annals of Major League Baseball.

That aside, just this season, the Yankees have seen McCann lost to a concussion mid-game and Cervelli suffer a Grade 2 hamstring strain on a day where he had to fill in at first base, and last year, utility infielder Alberto Gonzalez was on call as the emergency catcher for nearly a week while Chris Stewart battled dizziness issues.

The latter two of those three wouldn't help Girardi's cause in terms of that rule change, but the with the former, as bad as a concussion can be on its own, the after-effects can be worse - including the higher risk of another.

"I think you're always concerned about concussions for a catcher, whether they've had one or not; anytime you see someone take a ball off the mask, you get a little uneasy," Girardi said. "So do I worry about foul tips to the mask more now with Brian than I did before? A little, yes."

Unfortunately, though, with only two catchers on the roster, taking some of the "normal" steps to ease a player back into the lineup don't apply, especially with a short bench like the Yankees have had of late.

"I don't think you can play conservatively; maybe if you get in a long game and you have a huge lead you take a guy out, but then you have to worry about what happens if the next guy gets nicked up," he said.

And therein lies the rub for Girardi: because it's perhaps the hardest position on the diamond, perhaps some flexibility within the rules of the game would be beneficial.

"(Movement) is probably more difficult to do with catcher ... I wish that's something they would look at."

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