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SUNDAY, Jan. 26, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Professional baseball players are much more likely to be injured in tag plays at home plate than in other types of base-running plays, a new study shows.
Major League Baseball (MLB) owners recognize that this is a serious problem, and have proposed a rule change to reduce the risk of injury when catchers try to block runners who are heading for home plate. The proposal is awaiting approval by players and umpires.
In this study, researchers looked at data from the 2002 to 2011 MLB seasons, and found that tag plays at home plate resulted in injuries 4.3 times more often than other base-running plays.
Home plate collisions led to nearly three players per season suffering injuries that were severe enough for them to be put on the 15-day disabled list, the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center researchers said.
They also calculated that injuries from home plate collisions cost teams an average of about $2.3 million a season, according to the study published in the current issue of the International Journal of Sports Medicine.
"That's just the financial impact. More difficult to quantify but also worth considering are the players' health and the effect of their absences on their teams' performance," study author Dr. Daryl Rosenbaum, a sports medicine physician, said in a Wake Forest news release.
"I don't think fans go to baseball games to see collisions, and I don't think if you remove them it would change the inherent nature of the game," he added. "Why are collisions allowed in this one scenario when they're not really part of the game?"
A collegiate rule already prohibits catchers and other defensive players from blocking home plate and other bases, the news release noted.
The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons offers baseball injury prevention tips.