Angels starter Matt Shoemaker missed the final month of the season after being struck in the head by a 105-mph line drive. He underwent surgery to stop the bleeding in his skull, and is now healthy enough to pitch again. In an interview with Good Morning America, Shoemaker expressed a willingness to wear protective headgear while pitching next season.
Here’s what Shoemaker had to say, via ESPN:
“I am 100 percent trying all these [headgear] options in the offseason, you know, to see, you know, comfort, fit, all that stuff,” he told GMA. “It if feels and works like a baseball hat, I’d be definitely willing to wear it.”
The baseball world has spent years trying to develop suitable headgear for pitchers, but so far none of the designs have caught on. This spring, 20 major-league pitchers tested out the latest prototype, but none of them elected to use the helmet during the regular season.
Pirates pitcher Mark Melancon told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that the helmet felt just fine, but admitted he was hesitant to wear it because it “looks funny.”
You can blame pitchers for being vain or MLB for not yet producing a workable design, but it feels like we are well past the point where pitchers should have their skulls protected while they are on the field. Players are throwing and hitting the ball harder than ever, and each season sees at least one pitcher put in a truly scary situation by a line drive.
My gut says that it will take a few pitchers breaking the mold and regularly wearing protective gear before the rest of the league is convinced. Maybe Shoemaker will help get baseball to that tipping point.