Major League Baseball has approved a small step in the right direction to protect its pitchers from being beamed in the head.
Today, the MLB informed its 30 teams that a product has been approved for use on the field that will protect the heads of pitchers around the league, after consultation from the MLBPA. The product will be a protective cap with padding.
“We’re excited to have a product that meets our safety criteria,” MLB executive vice president Dan Halem told Outside the Lines. “MLB is committed to working with manufacturers to develop products that offer maximum protection to our players, and we’re not stopping at all.”
These newly approved caps are being manufactured by 4Licensing Corporation subsidiary isoBlox, who stated that the soft padding within the caps are made up of plastic injection molded polymers combined with a foam substrate, and will be made available to pitchers for spring training next month, although their use is completely optional.
Thankfully, the MLB isn’t stopping, because many of the injuries pitchers sustain are in the face. While this is a great step in the right direction to protect pitchers, it isn’t enough. For example, in 2012, the Astros’ Mickey Storey was hit in the face with a line drive by Dave Sappelt, causing contusions to Storey’s hand and jaw.
Also in 2012, then-Oakland Athletics pitcher Brandon McCarthy was struck by a baseball via a line drive hit back to the back of his head, suffering many life-threatening brain injuries. McCarthy had only 1/3 of a second to react to the ball, which wasn’t enough time to get his glove in front of his head for protection. Instead, the MLB should be considering more of a hockey mask-style design that would protect a pitcher’s skull as well as their face.
According to the MLB, they haven’t even contemplated exploring protective headgear for pitchers with broader coverage because there would have to be widespread willingness among players to such a device. Apparently, the MLB doesn’t believe pitchers would wear a full-on helmet or mask, but I disagree. I guarantee that if you ask any MLB pitcher what their biggest fear on the mound is, they’d likely say “getting hit in the face.”
[Photo Credit: Matt McGee]