Big league pitchers might feel safer on the mound this season.
Major League Baseball has approved a protective cap for pitchers, hoping to reduce the damage from line drives to head that have brought some terrifying and bloody scenes in the last few years.
The heavier and bigger new hat was introduced Tuesday and will be available for testing during spring training on a voluntary basis. Major leaguers and minor leaguers won’t be required to wear it — comfort is likely to be a primary concern.
“Obviously, it’d be a change,” two-time Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers told the MLB Network. “I’m definitely not opposed to it.”
“I think it’d take a lot of getting used to,” he said. “You don’t look very cool, I’ll be honest.”
The safety plates made by isoBLOX are sewn into the hat and custom fitted. They weigh an extra 6 to 7 ounces — a baseball weighs about 5 ounces, by comparison — and offer protection to the forehead, temples and sides of the head. They’ll make the hats about a half-inch thicker in the front and around an inch wider on the sides.
Several pitchers have been hit in the head by line drives in the recent seasons. Brandon McCarthy sustained a brain contusion and skull fracture after being struck in 2012 and Doug Fister was hit during the World Series that October.
Toronto’s J.A. Happ and Tampa Bay’s Alex Cobb were sidelined after being hit last year.
McCarthy tweeted that he had already tried out the fortified cap and that it was “headed in right direction but not game ready.”
Foster said the cap went through extensive testing and provided protection from line drives up to 90 mph in the front of the head and 85 mph on the side.
Line drives in the majors have been clocked at even faster rates.
Cubs ask for outfield sign
The Chicago Cubs have asked the city’s permission to put a 650-square-foot sign at Wrigley Field that may partially block views of the field from the surrounding rooftop businesses.
The rooftop owners have said they will file a lawsuit if the team puts up anything that cuts into their views. However, at least one city official is calling the application a positive development, even if it forces the courts to get involved in the dispute over renovation of the century- old ball park.
The Cubs filed a permit application after talks with the rooftop owners fell apart last week. The club owners also filed a defamation lawsuit against a stadium financing consultant who once advised the Cubs’ prior owner, the Tribune Co.
The team is planning a $500 million renovation for the ballpark, which is expected to take five years.
Reds, Chapman agree
Closer Aroldis Chapman agreed to a $5 million, one-year contract Tuesday, leaving the Cincinnati Reds with only starting pitcher Homer Bailey left in arbitration.
Chapman and the Reds split the difference on their arbitration figures. The club had offered $4.6 million while Chapman asked for $5.4 million.
The Reds were far apart with Bailey, who asked for $11.6 million and was offered $8.7 million. If they can’t reach a deal, a hearing would be held next month.