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Coming to MLB in 2014: Head Protection for Pitchers

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USA TODAY
Ted Berg, @OGTedBerg, USA TODAY Sports
 

Arizona Diamondbacks starter Brandon McCarthy said that headgear to protect pitchers should be available to major league pitchers by the start of the 2014 season, a move that comes after he and several pitchers were struck by line drives in recent seasons.

McCarthy needed emergency brain surgery after taking a line drive to the head while pitching for the Oakland Athletics late in the 2012 season and has long predicted more protection for pitchers. He said injuries like his could be prevented by the new gear.

"It's going to look silly," McCarthy said in an interview with Fox Sports. "But it should be strong enough and capable enough that, literally, if I got hit by the same exact ball, I would have been able to keep pitching in that game."

Major League Baseball confirmed in a statement that a product "has passed the testing standards designed by our medical officials, and it is possible that it could become available to players in 2014. We are also still evaluating a number of other potential products."

Any protective equipment must meet the approval of MLB and the players union.

McCarthy told Fox he took a picture of the headgear and sent it along to a few major league pitchers.

"It looks ridiculous," he said, "and we get so used to the way things work. (New football helmets) and batting helmets, everything looks silly until it doesn't look silly anymore."

McCarthy's plight brought significant attention to the issue, and it picked up more momentum during the 2013 season, when the Toronto Blue Jays' J.A. Happ and Tampa Bay Rays' Alex Cobb were struck by line drives and spent months on the disabled list.

"Whether that pitcher wants to pitch with headgear or not, that's up to him, but I definitely think there should be an option," Cobb said in August, when he met Happ before a Rays-Jays game.

Said Happ: "You'd be crazy to not look into it if it was available. I think function is the big issue. If it was functional and comfortable and didn't hinder the performance at all, then absolutely."

 
December 20, 2013
 
 
 

 

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