Major League Baseball is taking another stab at pitcher safety with a new cap-helmet hybrid and some pitchers are already testing out the wild headgear.
The carbon-fibre helmet, seen above, was created by Boombang and looks a lot like a batting helmet with the top and back removed.
On Monday, Pirates pitchers were the first players giving the helmets a test drive during a bullpen session. Here is Pirates pitcher Jared Hughes modelling the helmet prior to practice.
Here is the case the helmet comes in, as shown by pitcher Mark Melancon. Note that the helmet comes with a skullcap, presumably to help the helmet feel more like a regular cap. Not looking like a visor is probably also a benefit.
Here is Malancon during a bullpen session.
Melancon did not sound like he was ready to make the switch.
“It looks funny,” Melancon told the media, via the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “Just because of the looks, it might not be something that I wear during the season. As shallow as that seems, and I’m definitely not that guy … I don’t know. I’m just not there yet. Give me a little time, and maybe I’ll get there.”
On the other hand, Hughes sounds like he will give the helmet a try during games.
“I didn’t feel it on my head. It felt like a normal hat,” Hughes said. “When I weigh the pros and cons, the only thing that’s bad is that it might not look normal and I’ll get teased, which I couldn’t care less about. It’s going to keep me safer, and it feels comfortable.”
The helmet also comes with one ear flap bigger than the other. Boombang’s research showed that pitchers are more likely to be hit on the throwing-arm side of their head (you can see in the photo below that the left flap does not extend down as far as the right flap).
The helmet also has an adjustment dial on the back for sizing.
Despite Melancon’s worries, it is clear that the new caps are more attractive than the previous version, which was worn by pitcher Alex Torres during regular season games.
Here is the new helmet in action, via Uni-Watch.
According to MLB Vice President Patrick Houlihan, the helmets will be provided to “approximately 20 pitchers” to test during spring training.
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