MLB umpire Ed Hickox gets a $775K jury award as a result of a foul ball injury

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In 2005, umpire Ed Hickox was hit by a foul ball behind home plate. It knocked his mask off as it hit him in the jaw and caused broken bones and a concussion. Hickox sued Wilson, the mask’s manufacturer.  Yesterday a jury returned a verdict in his favor to the tune of $775,000.

The key thing in Hickox’s favor, according to his lawyer, was that Wilson didn’t do any testing of the mask before distributing them — for free — to umpires.  Rather, they depended on those umpires using the masks as defacto field tests.  Hickox’s lawyer uses the phrase “human guinea pigs,” which I’m guessing was the theme of his case at trial too. Always gotta have a theme.

I’ve been thinking about injurious foul balls Since Luis Salazar got hit in the head last week.  Yesterday I spoke with someone who works in the game who is convinced that it’s only a matter of time before someone is killed by one. Probably a fan.  That’s another topic from this Hickox business of course — and I’ll be writing more about it soon — but all of this news combined with a week of walking on baseball fields close players as they hit and throw makes one realize that it’s damn dangerous down on that field.  We don’t think about this very often as we see little white balls fly around on TV as though they are weightless, but a baseball can do a lot of damage.

Gives you a new appreciation for the batters who stand in there, the pitchers who stand in the direct line of fire — often unable by virtue of their follow through to defend themselves — and the catchers and umps who are nicked, banged, and battered multiple times a game.

Jonny Venters is still pitching

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Lefty reliever Jonny Venters was among a handful of players the Rays signed to minor league contracts, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Venters, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 and has logged just 27 2/3 innings in the minors in the meantime due to a continuous battle with his elbow. According to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Venters has undergone four — four! — Tommy John surgeries.

When he was healthy, Venters was a fearsome late-game option for the Braves. He posted a 1.95 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 83 innings in 2010, and a 1.84 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 88 innings in 2011. His first-half performance in 2011 earned him a spot on the National League All-Star roster.

Venters has spent the last two years in the Rays’ system and he’ll try to make it a third.