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Hit by liner, Happ says ‘I feel really fortunate’
Question of the Day
He also called his mother while an ambulance was transporting him to nearby Bayfront Medical Center.
“They were holding the phone up to my ear for me. … She was definitely relieved, glad to hear my voice,” Happ said.
The hit, still being replayed on TV a day later, left some of his fellow players unsettled.
“I felt horrible yesterday. I played with Happ last year for a little bit,” Chicago Cubs pitcher Carlos Villanueva said. “There’s a lot of talk out there about the gear and protective stuff. Hopefully, they’ll come out with something that won’t affect us pitching out there, but it’s still such a fast game. What happens if the ball comes directly at your face? There’s nothing you can do. You can’t pitch with a mask on. It just comes down to the draw of the luck I guess.”
Major League Baseball, meantime, is trying to determine the best way to protect pitchers from similar injuries.
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.
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