The two scariest incidents that involved pitchers getting hit in the head in the past two seasons both have Colorado connections. Pitching in Coors Field for the Colorado Rockies, Juan Nicasio was struck in the head and fractured a vertebra. Brandon McCarthy, who went to high school in Colorado (the same high school as this author) was struck earlier this season in Oakland, suffering a skull fracture and brain bruise. These incidents combined with the comebacker that got Doug Fister in the World Series have “accelerated the process” as Major League Baseball looks into protective headwear for pitchers.
MLB.com reports that as early as next season they may try helmets for pitchers in the minor leagues. The article outlines that possible solutions might include hats with kevlar lining.
Predictably most pitchers say that they are open to something more protective if it does not affect the way they pitch. That healthy skepticism combined with the pace at which baseball normally implements change probably means we are still a long ways from seeing helmets on pitchers in the Major Leagues. After all, it took a “serious incident” to convince them that they needed to accelerate the process, when they probably should have realized the increasing awareness of head injuries due to other sports, especially football.
Like seemingly everything else in baseball’s illustrious but complicated history, those who are in charge are reacting rather than being proactive. But at least it’s something.