In the wake of Brandon McCarthy’s scary-as-all-get-out injury on that comebacker last year, we heard a lot about padded caps for pitchers. Major League Baseball was certainly interested and conducted tests on some. But they didn’t pass muster so, as William Weinbaum of ESPN.com reports, the league is passing for now.
McCarthy himself tested the caps and said, unequivocally, that they’re no good as far as feel and functionality. Which is really going to be the key to such caps being used anyway. Pitching mechanics are sensitive enough. Having a hat that feels weird is certain to throw many pitchers off.
Maybe it happens eventually, but it’s back to the drawing board for the equipment makers.
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.