It's a fear that likely goes through the mind of every pitcher: a line drive screaming back and hitting them in the head. But now Major League Baseball is providing an option that might calm some of those fears.
Tuesday morning the MLB announced it had approved the use of a padded cap to protect pitchers from such a terrifying scenario.
Made by IsoBlox, a subsidiary of the 4Licensing Corporation, the hat is reportedly close to an inch thicker around the temples, half an inch thicker in the front, and about 7 ounces heavier than a standard hat. (Via ESPN)
And according to a company press release, it should provide "protection at speeds up to 90 mph in the front ... and 85 mph on the side impact location." (Via IsoBlox)
That exceeds an 83 mph threshold set by the MLB. As Yahoo reports, an MLB study found 83 mph is the average speed at which a line drive is traveling when it reaches the mound.
As SB Nation notes, there have been a series of pitchers injured by comebackers over the last several seasons — including J.A. Happ who suffered a fractured skull after being hit by a line drive.
But now that a safer hat is available, the question is, will anyone wear it? Some pitchers worry it could throw off their balance or just be too uncomfortable. Happ himself said he was unfamiliar with the hat and wasn't sure if he would use it.
While Brandon McCarthy, a pitcher who suffered life-threatening brain injuries after being hit with a line drive in 2012 and has also participated in testing of protective caps, said in a tweet the hats were "Headed in [the] right direction but not game ready." (Via Wikimedia Commons / BADBOY_1975, Twitter / @BMcCarthy32)
Though reigning NL Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw has been little more receptive on the topic. (Via Flickr / SD Dirk)
He's quoted in a tweet from MLB Network PR saying: "I'm definitely not opposed to it. It'd take a lot of getting used to. I think it's a great thing."
Of course, pitchers won't be required to wear the hats, but they will be an option for pitchers when they report to spring training next month.