Harper's agent seeks better plan for wet bases

From ESPN - August 13, 2017

A day after Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper injured his left knee while slipping on a wet first base bag, agent Scott Boras said Major League Baseball needs to take steps to ensure that wet, slick bases are not a safety hazard for players during periods of inclement weather.

Harper stumbled over the bag in the first inning of Washington's 3-1 victory over the San Francisco Giants on Saturday night. He avoided any ligament or tendon tears, but general manager Mike Rizzo said he suffered a "significant bone bruise'' that will keep him out an undisclosed amount of time.

"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. "I do not 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 is not 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 do not do that. We do not take measures like that for player safety that could easily be accomplished by the grounds crew and the umpires' observations.''

Harper, 24, is a five-time All-Star and a candidate for National League Most Valuable Player this season. He is eligible for free agency after the 2018 season, and there has been speculation that he could fetch a contract in excess of $400 million on the open market.

If Harper's scare focuses attention on the bases as a safety hazard, it could have the same impact that Buster Posey's 2011 injury had had on home plate collisions. Posey suffered a broken leg after being bowled over by Florida Marlins outfielder Scott Cousins, and MLB subsequently enacted new rules to help advance catcher safety.

"In every sports league, the elite athletes often bring notice to rules, regulations and behaviors that all of us have to pay very close attention to,'' Boras said. "We are talking about an alteration of the game and the season, and certainly the economics and futures of players and franchises are impacted when this event occurs. It brings to light that we have not examined this to the levels we need to. There are better ways and further things that we can do.''


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