MLB looking at head safety for pitchers

MLB looking at head safety for pitchers
October 27, 2012, 5:00 pm
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With several high profile cases of pitchers being struck in the head by batted balls, Major League baseball is moving quickly towards improving safety on the mound. According to the Associated Press, MLB is looking at liners for pitchers’ hats and other options to prevent head injuries.

Oakland Athletics pitcher Brandon McCarthy suffered a fractured skull and a brain contusion in September after taking a ball off the head. The league tells AP the event increased the urgency to improve safety.

"After that, it kind of pushed up our timetable," MLB senior vice president Dan Halem said. "We decided to fast track it."

In Game 2 of the World Series on Thursday night Detroit Tigers pitcher Doug Fister was hit in the head by a line drive, but continued pitching after examination by the training staff. After broadcaster Tim McCarver opined on television that pitchers should wear helmets several players took to Twitter in disagreement. 

One of those players happened to be Nationals shorstop Ian Desmond who was quoted in the article by the Associated Press.

"Helmets for pitchers??? Really," he said.

The same article pointed out how Desmond himself had been involved in scary incident last season when a liner hit by the shortstop struck Rockies pitcher Juan Nicasio in the head. Nicasio broke his neck when he fell on the mound.

Desmond is a position player, but the potential mandate is just as unpopular with pitchers. Both Vance Worley and Barry Zito expressed displeasure in the piece about possibly wearing head gear on the mound.

The league says they will try to do something that won’t impair a pitcher’s ability and weight will likely be an issue. This would likely rule out any sort of helmet, at least in the traditional sense. One proposal involves lining hats with the material Kevlar which is used for bullet proof jackets.

It doesn’t sound like anything will be imposed for the 2013 major league season, but something could be tried for the minors. Either way, it sounds like an inevitable measure for Major League Baseball as they try to prevent a serious head injury happening to one of their players. McCarthy’s case was a bad one and they don’t want to see something worse.

What do you think, should pitchers be required to wear protective head gear when on the mound?