McCarthy on finding protection for pitchers: 'It's just a matter of when, not if'
Now that it appears that Jays lefthander J.A. Happ should be okay - released from the hospital today with a head contusion and ear laceration - following Tuesday's scary and sickening sight of him getting struck with a line drive, the question continues to be:
Is there anything that can be done to protect pitchers?
Major League Baseball spokesman Mike Teevan said they've been working hard, spending a lot of time and resources into studying tehnology and meeting with companies on making suitable protective products. Although some of the products are promising, no company has yet developed a product that has satifisfied MLB's testing criteria. A safety and health advisory committee, made up of officials from MLB and MLB Players Association, still works on the issue.
Diamondbacks pitcher Brandon McCarthy, for one, believes eventually there will be a solution, but doesn't think there's one out there now. McCarthy, if you remember, suffered a fractured skull and an epidural hemorrhage and underwent brain surgery after he was struck by a line drive while a member of the A's last year.
"I know that baseball has worked on it and they're trying to find people from outside of baseball who can solve the problem," McCarthy told reporters Tuesday night in Los Angeles, where Arizona is playing. "Until someone makes something that works, it's going to be tough for anybody to wear it. Most everything that's come out, it wouldn't have protected me, wouldn't have protected (Happ) if he got hit directly on the ear.
"So you're at the point where you're looking at hitting helmets. You'd have to have something that protected the ear. At that point, how vulnerable is the face and beyond. It's kind of a slippery slope where somebody will have to come up with something really good or really sound. Otherwise, I don't know how to answer the question."
So far, it doesn't appear any new cap design satisfies requirements MLB set for giving head protection against batted balls coming at such a high speed. What pitchers would be willing to wear remains to be seen, with a few, including Rays veteran reliever Joel Peralta, saying Tuesday night that they know the risk when they take the mound.
But McCarthy who signed a two-year, $15.5 million deal in the offseason with Arizona, thinks there's a chance something will eventually be made to protect pitchers from this situation.
"Probably good," he said. "We've put things on the moon before, so I feel like we could create some sort of a device that sits on your head and protects you. ... It's going to be a money-maker whatever it is. You can sell it to youth leagues and people will wear it all the way through. Usually good ideas go where the money is, so I think if enough companies get into that or people in their basement who are good at creating, someone will do it. It's just a matter of when not if."