In 1971, Major League Baseball took its first major step towards protecting players when batting helmets were mandated — sans the ear flaps — for hitters. In 2014, they're attempting to do the same for pitchers by approving padded caps that are available to be worn, but have yet to endear themselves to today's players.
It's a worthwhile effort to be sure, but no matter how hard they try to keep players safe, scary things are going to continue happening on the baseball field because physics dictate as such. Unfortunately for Delino DeShield's Jr., a prospect and former first round pick in the Houston Astros organization, he found out just how dangerous and scary it can be when he took a 90 mph fastball to the left side of the face while playing for Double-A Corpus Christi on Friday night.
According to MLB.com's Brian McTaggart, DeShields suffered a broken left cheekbone and will miss several weeks as a result. For those who saw it happen live or saw the photos immediately afterwards, that's probably a relief. The impact was described as horrific and his face was extremely swollen by the time he managed to get off the field. Amazingly, he walked off under his own.
“He’s lucky considering,” Hooks manager Keith Bodie said. “It could have been horrific, could have been catastrophic. He never saw the ball out of the pitcher’s hand and took a 90-mph fastball right in the face. You can imagine how lucky we are that he’s only got a fracture of his cheekbone. His head looks like a beach ball right now.”
There was a photo going around on Twitter showing DeShields face post beaning. It may be considered graphic, so we'll advise you to click here if you wish to see it. It's in no way altered, but the image is flipped.
At this point in his career DeShields is not considered a top 10 prospect in Houston's system, but he's not a guy they've counted out, either. At Class A last season, he hit .317 with five homers, 54 RBIs and 51 stolen bases. The big thing will be finding him a position. Over the past couple seasons he's moved from the outfield to second base and now back to the outfield. He's still in the mix, but he'll have an uphill battle both physically and mentally to overcome this unfortunate setback.
Bodie suggested the fact DeShields didn’t see the pitch could be a silver lining.
“So it doesn’t leave any lasting impressions imprinted in his mind in the future where he might be leery,” he said. “On the other hand, it was just a horrible thing to see. It’s going to be a very uncomfortable road back for him.”
Only time will tell how DeShields handles it, but there's no doubt he'll have more people rooting for him now than he's ever had before.
BLS H/N: Cut 4
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