Skip to content

What, exactly, are we supposed to do to prevent Aroldis Chapman-style injuries?

Mar 20, 2014, 8:53 AM EST

aroldis chapman getty Getty Images

The scene from Arizona in which Aroldis Chapman was smacked in the face by that Sal Perez comebacker is simply awful. He had literally no time to react and, while the latest reports from the hospital are encouraging, it may be a while before Chapman is pitching again. And there is no guarantee that the injuries and the experience won’t change him. Just terrible stuff.

Baseball fans and commentators haven’t had much time to react either, but they’re reacting all the same. Here’s a column from 2AM this morning — just a couple hours after the incident – from Fox’s Jon Paul Morosi:

But the sad reality is, as a practical matter, pitchers aren’t much safer now than on Sept. 5, 2012 — when Brandon McCarthy, then with the Oakland Athletics, was hit in the head by a line drive . . . Whatever engineering expertise needs to be mustered — and however large the checks that need to be written — an $8 billion industry should be able to find the answers . . . And so the next step is both obvious and imperative: Baseball must find a way to offer its pitchers a little more protection, to lessen the chances of our national pastime witnessing the worst kind of tragedy.

I sympathize with the sentiment, but I’m not sure what exactly is so obvious about the next step. At least in any specific terms. As Morosi himself notes, a helmet wouldn’t have protected Chapman here and even if it would have, pitchers have uniformly rejected the new reinforced cap that was introduced this spring. If we can’t easily or practically put helmets on guys in the line of fire (and I acknowledge the difficulties in doing that) it’s not going to be any easier to develop or mandate things like masks, face guards, reinforced rec-specs or whatever else may cut down on the risk to pitchers.

And if they were to mandate such measures, it’s not like we’d see a safer game overnight. Practical considerations would mean that any significant new equipment — especially ones that would mess with a pitcher’s comfort, vision and range of motion — would mean that they’d have to be grandfathered in. Kids who pitch with face masks in little league now would probably be the first generation that could reasonably be expected to do so when they’re 25 years-old and playing in the bigs. You can’t expect Clayton Kershaw to wear one of these next week.

I’m not one of those people who just blithely throw up their hands and say “accidents happen, that’s life in baseball!” But I do believe it’s way easier to say “we must do something!” than it is to actually solve a problem like this. Or, really, to even define a problem like this. Believe me, if it was, it would’ve been addressed long before now.

Latest Posts
  1. Diamondbacks avoid arbitration with David Hernandez

    Dec 17, 2014, 9:24 PM EST

    david hernandez getty Getty Images

    David Hernandez looked like a non-tender candidate after undergoing Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery in April, but the Diamondbacks decided to keep him around …

  2. Marlins, Braves, Giants considering Jake Peavy

    Dec 17, 2014, 8:10 PM EST

    peavy getty Getty Images

    Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Marlins, Braves, and Giants have all expressed interest in free agent starter Jake Peavy …

  3. Royals sign Edinson Volquez for two years, $20 million

    Dec 17, 2014, 7:02 PM EST

    edinson volquez getty Getty Images

    From CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman comes word that the Royals have agreed to terms on a two-year, $20 million free agent contract with Edinson Volquez.

  4. Rays, Padres, Nationals agree to 11-player trade

    Dec 17, 2014, 6:16 PM EST

    wil myers rays getty Getty Images

    A three-team, 11-player trade has been agreed upon between the Rays, Padres, and Nationals. It centers around outfielder Wil Myers.

  5. Nick Markakis had neck surgery

    Dec 17, 2014, 5:08 PM EST

    Nick Markakis AP

    He is expected to be able to resume baseball activities before Spring Training begins.

  6. Blue Jays sign Ryan Kalish

    Dec 17, 2014, 4:16 PM EST

    Daniel Nava Getty Getty Images

    One-time Red Sox prospect trying to snag a bench gig.

  7. On some days, Pedro Martinez knew opposing hitters were “f****d”

    Dec 17, 2014, 4:05 PM EST

    Pedro Martinez AP

    If you don’t love Pedro Martinez there is no helping you.

  8. The Dbacks were apparently not pleased with Wade Miley’s conditioning

    Dec 17, 2014, 2:31 PM EST

    wade miley getty Getty Images

    The pitcher denies there were issues. But now he’s off to Boston, so I guess it doesn’t matter.

  9. So, apparently we’re sweating the Matt Kemp physical now

    Dec 17, 2014, 12:53 PM EST

    matt kemp getty Getty Images

    And if it blows up, it could impact the Jimmy Rollins trade too.

  10. The Red Sox acquire Anthony Varvaro from the Braves

    Dec 17, 2014, 12:30 PM EST

    Anthony Varvaro Getty Getty Images

    The Sox are getting themselves a handy reliever.

  11. Mariners acquire outfielder Justin Ruggiano from Cubs

    Dec 17, 2014, 12:12 PM EST

    Justin Ruggiano AP

    Seattle is looking for right-handed bats.

  12. Michael Kohn knew he’d play for the Braves when he was ten-years-old

    Dec 17, 2014, 11:53 AM EST

    crystal ball

    Right team, even if he picked the wrong position.

  13. “Nothing brewing” on Red Sox trading Allen Craig

    Dec 17, 2014, 11:15 AM EST

    allen craig getty Getty Images

    They’re getting lots of calls on him, though.

  14. The Wil Myers trade is “nearing the finish line”

    Dec 17, 2014, 11:10 AM EST

    wil myers getty Getty Images

    It appears as though it’ll only be a two-team trade, with Myers heading to San Diego.

  15. The United States will seek to normalize relations with Cuba

    Dec 17, 2014, 10:03 AM EST

    Cuba

    Which could have some baseball implications

  16. No, it’s not crazy to pay a free agent for what you think he’ll do in the future. That’s the bleedin’ point.

    Dec 17, 2014, 9:00 AM EST

    dodgers logo

    A columnist takes a strange approach to criticizing the Brandon McCarthy contract. And his reasoning for doing so is pretty clear.

  17. The NFL in Dodger Stadium?

    Dec 17, 2014, 8:40 AM EST

    dodger stadium getty Getty Images

    Seems like a bad idea. And that’s even if the field would even fit. Which it may not.

Featured video

Cubs shore up rotation with Jon Lester
Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. M. Cabrera (4643)
  2. W. Miley (3509)
  3. M. Kemp (3475)
  4. W. Myers (2788)
  5. C. Headley (2776)
  1. J. Lester (2717)
  2. E. Santana (2679)
  3. Y. Cespedes (2648)
  4. M. Scherzer (2584)
  5. I. Desmond (2426)