In wake of a recent slew of ugly pitcher injuries on line drives back to the mound, most notably involving emergency brain surgery on Brandon McCarthy, MLB has taken steps to help somewhat reduce the threat. They have approved protective caps made by 4Licensing Corporation to hopefully make pitchers a little bit safer than they were before. CBS Sports reported that these caps had to meet standards of the average 83 mph line drive at the point of passing the pitcher's mound. For now, the caps are optional, and they will be distributed during Spring Training.
ESPN's William Weinbaum has more on how these caps will protect the players:
The company says the caps are a little over half-an-inch thicker in the front and an inch thicker on the sides -- near the temples -- than standard caps, and afford protection for frontal impact locations against line drives of up to 90 mph and for side impact locations at up to 85 mph. The soft padding, isoBlox says, is made of "plastic injection molded polymers combined with a foam substrate" and is designed to diffuse energy upon impact through a combination of dispersion and absorption techniques.
In addition to the added thickness, the padding increases adds seven ounces to the weight of a cap, which currently weighs three-to-four ounces, said Foster. The padding is to be sent to New Era to sew into MLB's official custom-fitted caps.
ESPN's Adam Rubin also tweeted out a picture of what these caps will look like:
MLB has approved a new protective cap for pitchers for this season, per Cirillo World PR. pic.twitter.com/fAv8BU3kFw— Adam Rubin (@AdamRubinESPN) January 28, 2014
The company said that they were unsure about whether caps could be made to better combat 100 mph line drives, but these hats seem like an excellent step forward in helping the men on the mound. There have been too many scary injuries over the years from these line drives, dating back to Gil McDougald's smash that severely curtailed Cleveland phenom Herb Score's career back in 1957. McCarthy, Bryce Florie, and Nick Blackburn are just a few more of many pitchers to be struck over the years.
While it's obviously not easy to protect the pitchers and keep their motions fluid, it's wonderful to see MLB taking precautionary measure to maybe one day save a player's life.