Brandon McCarthy does not plan to wear new padded cap

  • David Whitlock

Major League Baseball made a step in the right direction in approving the use of a padded cap for enhanced protection for a pitcher, but Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Brandon McCarthy isn’t sold that it’s enough of a step forward to wear.  He tweeted today in response to a fan’s question on the subject (via @BMcCarthy32):

In later tweets, he cited comfort and functionality as the main issue.  Brandon McCarthy would be an expert on the subject, having been struck by a ball on September 5, 2012 (as a member of the Oakland Athletics) requiring emergency surgery to relieve bleeding in the brain.  Nine months later, he suffered a scary seizure related and has still yet to fully recover (at least in terms of pitching form as he finished 5-11 with an ERA over 4.50 in 2014).

Nobody in the stadium, from players to fans, want to see this scene (McCarthy) Monica M. Davey/EPA

Nobody in the stadium, from players to fans, want to see this scene (McCarthy)
Credit: Monica M. Davey/EPA

One issue is that the cap is only advertised to be effective for line drives under 83 MPH, whereas the scariest ones are estimated well over 90 MPH.  McCarthy is by no means the first pitcher to be hit by a come-backer, others include 7-time All-Star Billy Wagner in 1998 and both Toronto Blue Jays LHP JA Happ and Tampa Bay Rays RHP Alex Cobb both this past season.  It was also noted in the ESPN Outside the Lines report, that four of the five most recent incidents (including McCarthy, Happ, and Cobb) involved the pitcher being hit below the cap line, rendering the technology moot.

It seems like just about every sport is putting in equipment or rules to preclude head injuries.  Sooner than later, technology will provide as much as possible, but never completely eliminate the risk.

– David Whitlock

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David Whitlock

David Whitlock - manager

David (a.k.a. Longhorndave or lhd_on_sports) joined the staff late in the 2012 season and moved to Site Manager in early 2013. A lifelong Houston Astros fan (and mini-season ticket holder for 9 years) he attends 20+ games per year. A statistics freak, David still keeps score the "old fashioned way" on occasion (and has kept manual score of World Series games since 1986 and retains the sheets). He was a featured guest weekly on the Phil Naessens Show. He is also a Texas Longhorns alumnus and huge football and baseball fan of his alma mater. When he isn't watching or writing about baseball, he works as a contractor at NASA Johnson Space Center. He lives by the mantra "a bad day at the ballpark is better than a good day anywhere else."

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