After two months of not understanding why he was missing pitches, Anthony Rizzo is going on the injured list.
The Yankees placed the first baseman on the 10-day IL with post-concussion syndrome on Thursday and recalled Oswaldo Cabrera to take Rizzo’s place. Aaron Boone called the move the result of a “likely concussion,” while a team spokesperson said doctors said Rizzo suffered from “a concussion cascading.”
Rizzo will be shut down, according to Boone. The veteran will be treated with supplements and visual and video exercises. Rizzo will be evaluated “week to week,” according to Boone. He’s able to participate in physical activity, but Rizzo will avoid baseball activities for a few days.
“The unknown is uncomfortable, but I also think the news he got yesterday, they feel good about treatment and what they’ll do,” Boone said. “He should be able to get better from it. So we’ll just see.”
The Yankees and doctors believe Rizzo’s condition stems from a May 28 collision at first base with the Padres’ Fernando Tatis Jr., though Boone couldn’t say that that was the definitive cause. Boone said Rizzo went through Major League Baseball’s standardized testing when the collision happened and in the days that followed to rule out a concussion.
“The baseline for that was fine,” Rizzo said of the tests in May. “There were really no symptoms. It’s not like I had headaches after that. It’s not like I was really losing memory afterwards or anything like that. We went through those plans and I think the training staff handled it very well and respectfully.
“The neurologist said that these things cascade afterwards where you maybe don’t initially feel it. Every concussion is different, so you don’t feel the initial blow, but what happens is your brain starts cascading. I guess that’s what happened. Waking up, the way I’d describe it is you go to bed sober and you wake up a little hungover. When that happens, I’m like, ‘That doesn’t seem normal.’”
Rizzo missed a few days with a stiff neck after the collision.
Rizzo began complaining about “fogginess” over the last few days, Boone said, and a “battery of tests” and a Wednesday visit with a neurologist revealed “cognitive impairment.” A spokesperson added that Rizzo first mentioned the symptoms at the end of last weekend’s series in Baltimore.
Rizzo, who has been flying with the team all this time — normally a no-no for people suffering concussions — played on Monday and Tuesday against the Rays before seeing the neurologist on Wednesday. Boone initially described Rizzo’s absence from Wednesday’s lineup as a predetermined day off.
While having Rizzo play after revealing his fogginess seems irresponsible, the Yankees have had their players play through physical impediments plenty of times in the recent past. That includes Jose Trevino playing through a season-ending wrist injury that dated back to spring training this year and DJ LeMahieu playing through a foot-toe injury last season.
Aaron Judge is currently playing with a torn toe ligament that is not 100% healed, while Josh Donaldson has been performing baseball activities far sooner than expected after being sidelined with a high-grade calf strain.
Rizzo said that had he experienced another “big collision,” it would’ve not been good.
Boone said that Rizzo didn’t feel concussion symptoms at any points in between the Baltimore series and the collision with Tatis Jr., though Rizzo said it was hard to pinpoint when symptoms began because there are days throughout a season when players naturally wake up feeling worse than others. A West Coast trip immediately following the collision didn’t help matters, as Rizzo just thought he felt tired after the lengthy trip. At that point, his neck was still his main concern, and he returned to action on June 2 in Los Angeles.
Since the “high-trauma impact” with Tatis Jr., Rizzo has been one of the worst hitters in the majors, slashing .172/.271/.225 with one home run and nine RBI over 46 games.
While he and Boone had repeatedly insisted that Rizzo was healthy throughout that slump, the slugger started to feel “crazy” for seeing pitches in different locations than what video replay showed. That recently prompted him to report his fogginess and schedule an appointment with the neurologist.
“I guess now we can link two and two together,” said Rizzo, who didn’t want to make excuses for his performance. “Over the last few weeks, you just start going to different checklists of mechanics, timing, consistently being late. Why am I being consistently late? I’ve made these adjustments plenty of times in my career. I just didn’t forget how to do this all of a sudden.
“I feel like I’ve had a pretty good awareness of the strike zone, and when that started deescalating more and more, that was definitely concerning.”
Rizzo, who admitted to sometimes forgetting how many outs there were, became so concerned with his struggles that he started to wonder if he was nearing the end of his career. In that regard, the test results provided a silver lining.
“You start thinking all these things,” Rizzo said. “To find out these test results is a little relieving in one way because I’m not as crazy as what I was putting myself through.”
Brain injuries are tricky — something the Yankees hopefully learned from Clint Frazier’s tenure — so there is no telling exactly when Rizzo will return. With Rizzo out, Jake Bauers and LeMahieu are expected to man first base.
Despite the uncertainty, Rizzo believes he will make a complete recovery thanks to the treatment plan he’s on. He also said that he hasn’t experienced any hindrances in his personal life.
“We’re going to test again pretty frequently,” Rizzo said. “The doctors we met with were amazing. They’re confident that this will fully heal.”
Source: Berkshire mont