Church empathizes with injured Wright
Braves outfielder offers advice to former Met teammate
NEW YORK -- If anyone can empathize with David Wright's plight as a victim of post-concussion syndrome, it is Ryan Church, whose two concussions with the Mets last year both ruined his season and sparked controversy over how the team handled his situation.
"I am the guinea pig," Church said Tuesday, before his first game as a visitor at Citi Field. "If it's going to help out and prolong guys and their careers, so be it. Somebody's got to do it."
And so Church has texted back and forth with Wright ever since the Mets third baseman suffered a concussion on a fastball to the helmet in Saturday's game against the Giants. Church offered up medical advice, although Wright may not need to accept -- his symptoms are not nearly as severe as those Church endured last summer.
Still, it was a pleasant exchange, quite unlike the one between Church and his former manager, Jerry Manuel. Just after Wright suffered his concussion, Manuel compared the injuries and potential recovery times of the two players, referring to Wright as "a different animal."
Church, whose symptoms were so severe that that he feared sleeping at one point last season, fired back Tuesday.
"It was kind of a cheap shot, but it is what it is," said Church.
Certainly, then, Church was appreciative of the "change of scenery" he received when the Mets dealt him to the Braves in exchange for Jeff Francoeur. Despite some initial struggles, he is playing nearly every day, even recently beginning to thrive. Church began August on a 9-for-21 tear that included five extra-base hits.
More importantly, he is playing on a team within spitting distance of a postseason berth. And he is playing without fear of sustaining another concussion.
"It's a crazy thing," Church said. "Concussions stink. I would recommend not getting one."
Though Wright did not follow that recommendation, he may be wise to follow his former teammate's advice now. And so far, albeit a bit reluctantly, he has. In the months since Church's head slammed into Yunel Escobar's right knee, baseball teams have shown increased caution in how they deal with concussions.
A week after Church suffered his injury, for example, Blue Jays second baseman Aaron Hill endured a concussion and spent the rest of the season on the disabled list. He returned this season to make the All-Star team.
And after Wright suffered his concussion, the Mets -- notoriously slow to place their players on the disabled list -- shelved him and admitted that there is a chance his season may be finished.
Church made note of that, before texting over his own advice.
"It's in our DNA to want to be out there," Church said. "But it's not something to take lightly or mess around with. It could be dangerous."
Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.