Many different solutions have been discussed, including a pitching helmet or face guard, but that could disrupt a pitcher and his delivery, which is why it was never seriously discussed.
According to ESPN’s William Weinbaum, MLB has approved an idea to help pitchers without completely affecting their motion:
In the nearly 17 months since then-Oakland Athletics pitcher Brandon McCarthy was struck in the head by a line drive and suffered life-threatening brain injuries, Major League Baseball says it has received and tested numerous prototypes from different vendors for padded caps to provide some head protection against high-speed shots off the bat.
On Tuesday morning, MLB informed its 30 teams that it has approved such a product for the first time, after consultation with the players’ association, according to Dan Halem, MLB executive vice president for labor relations.
The padded hat is said to be able to withstand a line drive of up to 83 MPH and will give pitchers a fighting chance against balls hit right back to the mound.
According to the MLB Network PR Twitter account, Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw was in favor of the new equipment:
Kershaw on padded caps: “I’m definitely not opposed to it. It’d take a lot of getting used to. I think it’s a great thing.” #MLBNHotStove
— MLB Network PR (@MLBNetworkPR) January 28, 2014
With Kershaw on board, it could make the transition a bit easier, especially with pitchers that would oppose. The new padded hats would add seven ounces of weight to the original hats, along with added thickness. Pitchers may be resistant at first because of the added weight and different feel, including those that use the new hat and struggle on the mound, but most pitchers will likely adopt the padded hats as a form of protection.
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