Is this the way major-league pitchers will look in the future?
Alex Torres, the San Diego Padres’ reliever, became the first major-league pitcher to wear a protective cap while pitching. He entered the Padres’ game against the Los Angeles Dogers on Saturday wearing the oversized hat and looking a little, well, silly. But, at a time when several pitchers have been struck by batted balls in recent years, choosing to protect his head is anything but silly.
“It could save our lives, if someone hits a ball to your head,” Torres said (via MLB.com). “I get it for free, so I’m just gonna use it to see how it feels.”
The cap, which was approved by Major League Baseball last January, is about a half-inch thicker in front and an inch thicker on the sides, according to ESPN’s “Outside The Lines.” Its use is strictly optional, but, over the last two seasons, several pitchers have been struck in the head by balls hit back up the middle. Brandon McCarthy, then pitching for the Oakland A’s, suffered a skull fracture and brain contusion from being struck in the head by a line drive. Aroldis Chapman of the Cincinnati Reds was hurt by a line drive in March and Torres was affected by seeing Alex Cobb, his former teammate in Tampa Bay, suffer a concussion last year.
“I came in after Alex Cobb was hit in the head,” Torres told CNN on Sunday. “That’s really an impression to me, how his head sounded from the bullpen. That was really bad. I was shaking. ‘Oh my God! Oh my God!’ I’m glad he’s alive.”
There was a bit of ridicule from fans on Twitter, but that seems like a small price to pay.
“It’s a good idea they make this kind of hat to protect my head,” Torres told CNN. “You want to protect life. I don’t have a kid yet, but I want to see my kid grow up.”