MLB pitchers to test protective caps

MLB pitchers to test protective caps

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NEW YORK (MYFOXNY) - Major League Baseball has approved a protective cap for pitchers, hoping to reduce the damage from line drives to head.

MLB’s approval of the IsoBLOX cap for on-field use comes after extensive research and consultation with industry experts and with the Major League Baseball Players Association, according to the company.

The isoBLOX cap demonstrated protection at speeds up to 90 mph in the front and front boss impact locations and 85 mph on the side impact location.  Use of the cap by MLB pitchers will be optional with many expected to try it out during spring training in the coming weeks.

The safety plates made by New York City bases isoBLOX are sewn into the hat and custom fitted. They weigh an extra six to seven ounces — a baseball weighs about five ounces, by comparison. They'll make the hats about a half-inch thicker in the front and around an inch wider on the sides.

Several pitchers have been hit in the head by line drives in the recent seasons. Brandon McCarthy sustained a brain contusion and skull fracture after being struck in 2012 and Doug Fister was hit during the World Series that October.

Toronto's J.A. Happ and Tampa Bay's Alex Cobb were sidelined after being hit last year.

McCarthy tweeted that he had already tried out the fortified cap and that it was "headed in right direction but not game ready."

Said Arizona reliever Brad Ziegler: "I think they're on the right track, but the hat they approved isn't remotely close to comfortable enough to wear in games."

In December 2012, MLB medical director Dr. Gary Green presented ideas on protective headgear to executives, doctors and trainers. The prototypes under study included some made of Kevlar, the high-impact material often worn by military and law enforcement and NFL players.

Several companies tried without success to make a product that would be approved by MLB and the players' union. While isoBLOX was first to get the OK, other firms still might submit proposals.

Development and testing of isoBLOX began in May 2013 and the technology first met MLB’s safety threshold in August 2013.  Over the last several months, further refinements produced the protective headform that will be available this year for MLB pitchers and players at all levels of the sport, including Little League, high school and college players.

The company also produces other protective gear for baseball.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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