The recent focus on head injuries in sports and troubling injuries suffered by pitchers such as Brandon McCarthy and Aroldis Chapman, who were struck on the mound by line drive come backers, has led Major League Baseball to ramp up efforts to better protect pitchers.
One such invention that received MLB's seal of approval in January were bulky caps designed with extra padding to help absorb the impact. The caps are currently available to all pitchers, and at this point are optional. However, we've yet to hear a pitcher express any serious interest in wearing one during a game.
However, just as a reminder that they are indeed available in the clubhouse, Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Todd Redmond was spotted wearing one in the Blue Jays dugout prior to their game against the Cleveland Indians on Friday night.
That seems to be nearly unanimous. Players simply don't feel comfortable wearing the oversized cap on their head while attempting to do their job. They're willing to sacrifice safety for comfort and routine, and it doesn't appear that will change until a model more to their liking comes along.
Really, when you look at this hat, it's big, it's bulky and it's admittedly a bit awkward looking, but it's tough to imagine a safer design that's also smaller, more comfortable, and perhaps even more attractive. Pitchers aren't going to sign off on wearing helmets or masks on the mound, so it has to be something in this mold, but what will it take to make it more appealing while also providing sufficient safety?
As the Stew's David Brown pointed out in January, it's a challenging project that may do more to protect young kids playing the game in the short-term than major leaguers. That's not a bad thing at all, and if kids start wearing them and actually become comfortable wearing them, we may start seeing the caps trickle in at higher levels. We're a long way from there, obviously, and we may be a longer way away from the perfect solution, but at least the effort continues to be made.
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