Padded caps like this could make an appearance in baseball to curtail pitchers' injuries. (Photo via ESPN/Unreal Technologies)

Pitchers to test padded hats

Published On December 18, 2012 | By Jill Saftel

Pitchers find themselves in the path of a line drive probably too many times for comfort. In an effort to curtail some of the most serious injuries that can result from being struck by a line drive at a close distance, the MLB is introducing padded hats.

According to ESPN, a dozen pitchers will be trying out the hats this week, which feature “CRT” padding from Unreal Technologies Co. Following some preliminary testing, the hats now need to get critiqued by the guys who’ll be wearing them.

The padding inside the hats weighs just 4.3 ounces and is one-eighth of an inch thick, made of a three-layer synthetic composite that includes military-grade DuPont Kevlar and a polymer with the properties of rubber. However, Unequal isn’t the only company throwing its hat into the ring, and the MLB is in talks with five additional companies with similar products, all using different materials and in different stages of their development.

Pitchers’ safety came to the forefront as an issue in baseball towards the end of the 2012 season. In September, a line drive off the bat of Erick Aybar struck Brandon McCarthy in the right side of the head. McCarthy suffered a brain contusion and skull fracture but is expected to be ready for the start of spring training. During the World Series, Tigers pitcher Doug Fister was struck in the head by a line drive from Gregor Blanco but was unharmed.

According to Rob Vito, the president of Unequal, New Era contacted his company three months prior to the McCarthy incident about providing padded linings. But the McCarthy incident pushed the timetable for MLB and now padded caps could make an appearance in the minor leagues as early as next season.

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About The Author

Jill studies journalism at Northeastern University, covers Hockey East for College Hockey News and is the sports editor for The Huntington News. You can follow her on Twitter at @jillsaftel, just don't ask her to choose between hockey and baseball, it's impossible.