CLEVELAND: Five days after taking a hard foul tip off his mask Sunday in Baltimore, Carlos Santana was feeling better before Friday’s game, the start of a six-game homestand for the Indians at Progressive Field.
“I feel great,” Santana said. “I feel so much better than a couple days ago. Today is my best day. I think I’ll be all right.”
Santana has been on the seven-day concussion disabled list since Tuesday, so he has a few more days to ease back into baseball activity. But before he starts hitting, there’s another step he has to pass in the recovery process.
Starting Friday, Santana was scheduled to slowly begin being reintroduced to lights and loud noise. That’s why he was to spend just three innings in the dugout during Friday night’s game against the Colorado Rockies, as the Indians’ medical staff takes it slow with him.
“He came in today and reported feeling really well, and that’s great,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “Anybody who’s had concussions [knows that] sunlight and lights can be a deterrent. So, he’s going to sit in the dugout for three innings and then come back in [the clubhouse]. As long as he tolerates it well, we’ll keep increasing that.”
A former major-league player and longtime manager, Francona has witnessed the opinion of the protocol for treating concussions change dramatically over the years.
“It may not seem like a big thing, but you’ve got to go by the steps,” he said. “I’d be willing to bet that there’s a lot of undiagnosed concussions with everybody. I mean, it happens. I think the medical world has made so much headway in trying to diagnose and trying to be safe with players. They’ve done a really good job. But I’m sure a lot still go undiagnosed.”
That nearly happened with Santana, who also was sick when he was hit.
“The doctor didn’t even really know initially,” Francona said. “At first he was like ‘concussion.’ Then after he examined him, he’s like, ‘He might just be sick, but he’s not playing.’ So on the second day when the fever started to go away and he still had the headache and the [sensitivity] to the light, it became obvious we better treat it like [a concussion]. The other end of the spectrum is you play a guy, and that’s not good.”
Stephanie Storm can be reached at email@example.com.