NEW YORK — Big league pitchers might feel safer on the mound this season.
Major League Baseball has approved a protective cap for pitchers in hopes of reducing the effects of being hit in the head by line drives.
The new hat was introduced Tuesday and will be available for testing during spring training on a voluntary basis. Major leaguers and minor leaguers won’t be required to wear it.
The safety plates made by 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 — and offer protection to the forehead, temples and sides of the head.
Several pitchers have been hit in the head by line drives in recent years. 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 season.
“We talked to a lot of guys who had been through this, and they provided a wealth of information to help us,” said Bruce Foster, CEO of the 4Licensing Corporation, parent company of isoBLOX. “We went through a myriad of different designs to develop this.”
Foster said the cap went through extensive testing and provided protection from line drives up to 90 mph in the front of the head and 85 mph on the side. Line drives in the majors have been clocked at even faster rates.
The hat is “slightly bigger” than a regular baseball cap, Foster said.
Check out the hats below.