Buster Posey stepped on the field Wednesday as the wonderboy of the San Francisco Giants. He was helped off it as the subject of his very own "Faces of Death" video.
It wasn't pretty to watch: Marlins outfielder Scott Cousins — the new Ken Huckaby by the bay — crashing into the star catcher, Posey's leg getting caught underneath. X-rays revealed a break and ligament damage in his ankle. The hope is Posey returns to help the Giants defend their title in two months, but there are no guarantees.
Somewhat surprisingly, the incident stirred up a debate about the rules of the game. Many columnists and media pundits — I'm guessing at least one "Around The Horn" panelist's head exploded — are calling for home-plate collisions to be banned from the sport.
It all makes for good conversation, but I'm not buying it. There are ways to avoid injuries at the plate, it's just about learning the craft. Ask Jorge Posada, who suffered a similarly ghastly leg injury in a home-plate incident in the minors but later became an expert at avoiding collisions, turning his back shoulder away from the baserunner and sweeping a tag through the zone. Sixteen years into a Hall of Fame-level career, can you ever remember Posada being truly creamed at the plate?
Indians uber-prospect Carlos Santana tore up his knee in a collision at Fenway Park last summer, an injury that looked just as ugly as Posey's (actually worse). I'm hoping Cleveland management showed the 25-year-old a Posada reel. This is likely the only time baseball people would show a young catcher tapes of Posada's work behind the dish, but it might be the most important lesson a player can learn.
Which brings us, of course, to Jesus Montero. The Yankees' No. 1 prospect, Montero is being groomed as the next big thing in a long tradition of great backstops in the Bronx. I'm sure as the 24-hour news cycle rolled highlights of Posey's injury on loop, at least one Yankee front office official broached the subject of whether their phenom should be playing the most dangerous position on the field.
In Montero's case, you can make the argument a move off catcher makes sense. There's depth in the system, meaning Montero could be shifted to a different position while another player — let's say Austin Romine — slides into his place. Montero's not supposed to be particularly gifted defensively, either — some scouts peg his best position as DH — so it's not like the team would be wrestling with the idea of uprooting a young Pudge Rodriguez.
Of course, the bloat on the Yankees' parent club makes even the idea of shifting Montero difficult. Mark Teixeira and his $180 million contract is anchored at first until 2016. Many of us won't be around to see the day A-Rod's contract comes off the books. And that's not even getting into the messy Derek Jeter business, a player who might already be best suited for a corner infield home, depending on who you ask.
Factoring in financial and roster issues, it makes sense to keep Montero at the position he's been groomed at. If his ego will allow it, maybe Posada can give the 21-year-old lessons on how to avoid the collisions that Posey, Santana, and Posada himself have endured.
Montero is the future of the franchise, making incidents like Wednesday scary stuff. But to quote the bad guy from re-watchable cable classic Under Siege 2: Dark Territory (and, I guess, famed scientist Louis Pasteur) — "Chance favors the prepared mind."
Words to live by, kid.
Dan Hanzus can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @danhanzus.