Aroldis Chapman is the latest pitcher to face the frightening reality of a line drive to the head, but Alex Cobb of the Tampa Bay Rays has been there too. Cobb took a 102 mph line drive to the dome last season, suffering a concussion and missing two months of the season.
Asked on Thursday about Chapman's injury, Cobb responded that he wasn't pleased with Major League Baseball for its roll out of the new protective caps that pitchers supposedly could choose to wear in 2014. As The Stew noted, the new caps wouldn't have helped Chapman, who was hit in the face, but Cobb couldn't help but look at the replay and think, "Again?" He told Tampa Bay radio station 620 WDAE:
"I can't believe it's already happened again. I wouldn't say I was naive to the fact that it wouldn't happen again, but this quick is pretty amazing."
The bigger issue for Cobb is that he hasn't even seen the protective caps that pitchers can electively wear this season.
"They've kind of behind-closed-doors officially made one available, but I don't think you can talk to one pitcher in spring training this year that's seen one," Cobb said. "I was expecting when we first got here this year that one would be in our training room for us to test out, or just throw a couple of bullpens in or something before the game actually started. And then I figured by the games they'd absolutely have one, and there hasn't been anything available to us.
"I don't know where we're supposed to go online or find it on our own, or what, but we haven't seen anything yet."
This story jibes with a report from the Cincinnati Enquirer, in which Chapman's Reds teammate Sam LeCure says he doesn't think he'd wear one of the new caps, but he can't say for sure, because he hasn't seen one either. C. Trent Rosecrans of the Enquirer writes that the caps have actually been sent back for more work.
"I'd be curious to get one down here." LeCure said. "I'd have thought they'd have one down here in spring training, just for guys to try out and see how they feel and see if they're effective. I'm sure they're effective if they were approved, but why if they were approved are they not at our disposal to try out? I'd be curious to try one."
The reason is that nobody's seen them -- none of the 30 teams in Major League Baseball received the caps this spring and according to sources, the caps have been sent back to the development stage.
That's a surprising development, if it's true. If MLB was trying to keep the padded-cap delay quiet, it's going to have a hard time doing so now that head injuries for pitchers are unfortunately back in the news again.
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