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Injury Prompts Call for MLB to Examine Safety of Bases

Paul Steinbach

In all kinds of climatic conditions, a baseball diamond is pampered like few other sports surfaces. The infield dirt gets watered and raked even in good weather, and covered during extended periods of rain. But one surface area — the desired destination of every offensive player on the field — doesn’t get enough attention, according sports agent Scott Boras.

Boras, considered the world’s most powerful sports agent by Forbes magazine, called on Major League Baseball to consider bases a hazard when wet after one of his clients, Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper, slipped on first base during the first inning of a game Saturday night and suffered a deep bone bruise.

“We go to great lengths with the soil to make sure it’s not wet and there are drying agents on the ground,” Boras said, as reported by ESPN. “I don’t know what technology we apply or the studies that have been done on the composition of having a wet base. That’s certainly something we need to look into. This injury was directly related to inclement weather and a player putting his cleat on the bag and it slipping across because the surface was slick.

“In the NBA, when a player hits the floor and there's perspiration on the floor, they clean it up immediately so the surface isn't slick. In baseball, we have no one cleaning the bags between innings during inclement weather. Is there observation as the game goes where they would stop and make sure the bag is dry? We don’t do that. We don't take measures like that for player safety that could easily be accomplished by the grounds crew and the umpires’ observations."

From AB: How to Properly Maintain Baseball and Softball Infields

MLB Rule 1.06 states that bases are “marked by white canvas or rubber-covered,” and are “securely attached to the ground.” A change in composition of bases used by Major League Baseball would come from the league’s joint Safety and Health Advisory Committee. The committee, which includes representatives from Major League Baseball and the Players Association, addresses health and safety issues as they arise and monitors the safety of working conditions for players, according to ESPN’s report.

“We’re placing players in peril when they have no notice or familiarity with the surface they’re playing on,” Boras said. “There may be a better solution where you have a base that has a less slick surface in response to precipitation.”

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