Highly unfortunate news out of Braves camp today as doctors were unable to save the left eye of minor league manager Luis Salazar. Struck by a foul ball while leaning on the railing atop the dugout steps last week, Salazar went through several facial surgeries after the terrifying incident. Dave O’Brien of the AJC gives the gory details:
Salazar sustained multiple facial fractures and was knocked unconscious for at least 20 minutes after being hit while he stood against a dugout railing during a Grapefruit League game against St. Louis.
He was hit flush in the left side of his face and knocked out immediately, then tumbled several feet and landed face-first onto the dugout floor. Salazar was airlifted to the hospital and didn’t regain consciousness and resume breathing on his own until he was in the helicopter.
Losing an eye is a small price to pay when you consider the severity of the incident, where several players and onlookers worried for the coach’s life. Salazar’s job as the manager of the class A affiliate in Lynchburg awaits him as he rehabs and recovers from this traumatic incident.
One can only wonder what steps major league baseball might take to better protect its players and managers in the dugout. Larger big league parks may not represent such risks but minor league and spring training facilities present increased danger. The expanded rosters during the exhibition season mean more bodies in the dugout and fewer places to sit and/or hide.
Despite dragging its feet on any number of issues, safety is one thing Major League Baseball doesn’t hesitate in acting on, citing the classic case of “Better Late versus Never.” What kind of sport or league wouldn’t step forward to protect its fans, players, and support staff? That would be very irresponsible, borderline reckless to keep putting people in harm’s way rather than update antiquated traditions or tired truisms from a bygone era.