On the same day Major League Baseball approved a padded cap for pitchers to wear for protection against line drives, Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Brandon McCarthy told ESPN's Jayson Stark, "I won't wear [the cap] in its current form."
McCarthy was injured by a line drive off his head in September of 2012, which led to a brain contusion and skull fracture, injuries that required brain surgery to help save his life. The Diamondbacks right-hander had spoken earlier in the offseason about the possibility that MLB pitchers could wear padded headgear as early as the 2014 season, but after testing the protective cap, McCarthy will choose not to wear it in the year ahead.
"The technology is there," McCarthy told Stark. "It helps. It's proven to help. But I don't think it's ready yet as a major league product. And I told them that. I told them that's where it's at."
Given his injury history, McCarthy's comments may come as a surprise to some, but the caps approved by MLB on Tuesday are proven to provide protection against objects traveling up to 83 mph and help limit damage for objects traveling over 90 mph. Considering that line drives in the major leagues often travel at speeds above 100 mph, there is little doubt that Major League Baseball will continue to look for more solutions and better options.
For now, McCarthy believes the current cap is "just too big," and "doesn't pass the eye test." Furthermore, the headgear is bulky enough that pitchers are "aware of the cap when wearing it." According to McCarthy, "it has to disappear" before he will choose to wear the added protection in a game environment.
MLB will continue to work with IsoBlox, the company that developed the cap, to improve the product, but for now the league is allowing pitchers the option to wear the headgear in 2014 if they so choose. Since McCarthy's injury, four other pitchers have been struck by line drives in the head, including J.A. Happ and Alex Cobb, who both missed time due to their ensuing head injuries.
These types of incidents led MLB to pursue options that would help protect pitchers from head injuries, and despite McCarthy's misgivings with this iteration of the cap, the league will allow pitchers to wear them in 2014.