GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- In the wake of Reds closer Aroldis Chapman being hit in the face by a line drive in a scary moment that has been seen on video around the world, the safety of pitchers is back on the forefront.
Chapman threw a 99-mph pitch against the Royals on Wednesday night and was struck by a Salvador Perez line drive up the middle that was traveling even faster. Chapman had no chance to defend himself, suffering fractures above his left eye and nose. He was scheduled for surgery on Thursday to put a plate on the bone above his eye. As other pitchers have been hit in the head -- Brandon McCarthy, Doug Fister and J.A. Happ to name a few recent examples -- there has been calls for safety improvements.
"This all started with aluminum bats in Little League and certainly went up to the base coaches," Reds medical director Dr. Tim Kremchek said. "Now they're talking about pitchers wearing vests in case they get hit in the chest. Obviously in the face, helmets on the mound -- these are things that have to be looked at. These are balls come back awfully fast. [Chapman] throws it hard and it came back even harder. The safety of our players is extremely important. I'm sure this is something that will be looked at again."
In January, a special protective pitchers cap was approved by Major League Baseball. It should be noted that this type of cap likely would not have protected Chapman from the fractures he suffered.
Reds reliever Sam LeCure wouldn't mind trying a protective cap, but said they have not been brought to the team's complex.
As a former pitcher and pitching coach, Reds manager Bryan Price has seen similar incidents of line drives hurting other pitchers.
"You never want to see it," Price said. "There is a certain amount of risk in competitive sports. We're trying everything that we can to protect our players. I don't know where to go in this regard. I really don't know where to take it to protect these guys without changing really the layout of the game."
Major League Baseball issued the following statement regarding the protective caps:
"Clubs were informed in late January, after MLB and the MLBPA approved the use of the new product on a voluntary basis, that demonstrations of the protective hat are available, and that continues to be the case.
"Any pitcher who is interested in trying a model of the approved protective cap should contact their equipment manager so that the company can provide a custom-fitted model in his size. We will schedule any interested player with a fitting.
"The company has received direct, constructive feedback from players who have seen the hat. The company is attempting to make modifications that address the players' suggestions, which included the comfort, 'breathability' and look of the cap."