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The league’s senior vice president, Dan Halem, said a half-dozen companies were designing headgear for pitchers but no product so far was sufficiently protective and comfortable.

“If it doesn’t absorb enough impact, then it may be ineffective,” he said.

Dr. Gary Green, MLB’s medical director, said the Head Injury Criterion (HIC) scale is being used to evaluate products and that a cap liner likely would have to be 8 ounces or lighter.

“We’ve found some things that are very lightweight, but they’re not very protective, and then other things that might be protective but they are too heavy and don’t meet the other specifications,” he said.

Robert Vito, president of Pennsylvania-based Unequal Technologies Co., said a patent had been submitted for a product he hopes to make available in June. Vito said his employees met with pitchers, coaches and trainers from 26 big league teams during spring training..

“My biggest concern coming from the MLB Players Association is the mirror test. When they put it on, it must be concealed protection that cannot be detected by the fan,” he said.

In testing the product, he had someone smash a Louisville Slugger bat into his chest.

“Energy is like water. It’s got to go somewhere,” Vito said. “So the energy is either going to go into my body and devastate tissues, tendons and break ribs and crush my heart to where I’m bleeding out internally, or it’s going to get absorbed into the pad and then return some of that energy to the bat, all the while protecting me.”

While Unequal has used Kevlar-based products in the past, Georgia-based Evoshield employs “gel-to-shell” technology.

“There is no fast and easy solution,” Evoshield CEO Bob Pinckney said in a statement.

Green said an average of two pitchers had been struck on the head by line drives during the past seven or eight seasons.

“While these things are catastrophic, they’re still rare events,” he said.

Baseball stepped up its efforts after two pitchers were struck last year. Oakland’s Brandon McCarthy was hit on the head by a liner last September, causing a skull fracture, an epidural hemorrhage and a brain contusion that required surgery. He was released from a hospital six days later.

Detroit’s Doug Fister was struck in the head by a batted ball during the World Series; he was unhurt and stayed in the game.

“I’ve heard a lot of pitchers say they wouldn’t mind trying it. And a lot of pitchers just don’t want it,” said Tampa Bay’s David Price, the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner. “So I think the decision would still be left up to that player. If it worked and it didn’t affect anything in the mound, I would definitely look into it.”

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