Pitchers to test padded hats in effort to reduce head injuries

19 Comments

In what seems like a compromise between their current lack of protection and wearing a full-on helmet on the mound MLB will have pitchers test a padded hat in an effort to reduce head injuries.

Willie Weinbaum of ESPN.com reports that “at least a dozen” pitchers have been given the padded hats made by Unequal Technologies Company to try and offers some more specifics about the product:

Unequal’s padding for each cap weighs 4.3 ounces, is one eighth-of-an-inch thick and is made of a three-layer synthetic composite that includes military grade DuPont Kevlar and a polymer with the properties of rubber. He also said Unequal could mass produce the cap padding and sell it as an insert for about $60 apiece retail.

Unequal isn’t alone in providing pitchers headgear for MLB’s consideration. MLB senior vice president Dan Halem said Monday that discussions are being held between Unequal and five other companies whose products are in different stages of development and use different materials.

Apparently the padded hats have been in development for a while now, but MLB and the various companies pushed up the timetable following head injuries to Brandon McCarthy and Doug Fister this year. However, in McCarthy’s case it’s unclear if the padded hat would have protected him based on where the ball struck.

According to Weinbaum the products could be used in the minor leagues as soon as this upcoming season.

Blue Jays release John Axford

John Axford
Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Blue Jays have released right-handed reliever John Axford from his minor league contract, per an announcement on Saturday. Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi speculates that the move could provide an avenue for the club to rework Axford’s contract, but the Blue Jays have yet to confirm or deny the report.

Axford, 35, was dealt a blow on Thursday after getting diagnosed with a stress reaction in the olecranon bone of his right elbow. Elbow soreness dogged the right-hander through much of his time in camp, and although he was scheduled for a follow-up examination later this spring, a definite return date had not been established.

Prior to the diagnosis, Axford was tabbed for a setup role with the team in 2019. He pitched to mixed results in 2018 (thanks in part to a late-season fracture of his right fibula) with a 5.27 ERA, 4.9 BB/9, and 9.8 SO/9 through 54 2/3 innings with the Blue Jays and Dodgers. Now, however, it’s not certain that he’ll return to the mound this season in any capacity.

Axford isn’t the only reliever the Blue Jays have lost to injury lately, either, as right-handers Ryan Tepera and Bud Norris have been sidelined with right elbow inflammation and forearm fatigue, respectively. Per Davidi, the Blue Jays offered Norris a $100,000 retention bonus to prevent him from opting out of the minor league contract he signed in February.