SBD/June 23, 2014/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Padres' Alex Torres Becomes First MLB Pitcher To Wear Protective Cap During Game

Torres wore the padded cap in the eighth inning of Saturday's game
Padres P Alex Torres on Saturday became the first player "to wear the protective cap approved for pitchers' use by MLB in a regular-season game," according to Will Laws of MLB.com. Torres wore the cap, approved by the league in January, "while pitching in the eighth inning of Saturday's contest against the Dodgers." He said, "The difference between how this hat and the regular hat feels isn't much. I tried it before using it in the game, playing catch. It doesn't feel really bad. It doesn't feel like how it looks on my head" (MLB.com, 6/22). ESPN.com's William Weinbaum noted the Padres last week "received their first batch of the isoBlox caps from the manufacturer." Torres and Padres head athletic trainer Todd Hutcheson said that they "wore them during batting practice and other times for a few days, despite incessant ribbing for the appearance of the heavier and bulkier caps." Hutcheson said, "As hard as balls are being hit now, if guys can protect themselves, I don't care what it looks like" (ESPN.com, 6/22). YAHOO SPORTS' Mark Townsend noted the caps have "been available to pitchers all season long." Torres already had appeared in 30 games for the Padres this season "and had yet to wear the cap in a game, so his decision to try it out came as a surprise." Up until this point, interest in "trying the cap has been nearly non-existent." Pitchers have been "willing to sacrifice safety for comfort and routine, and it didn't appear that was going to change until a new model came along." But maybe now that one pitcher "has tried this model, a couple more will give it a shot as well" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 6/22).

WILL TORRES BECOME A TREND SETTER? FS San Diego's Dick Enberg said of the protective cap, "It looks unusual. It isn't quite as form fitting and as chic as the baseball cap." He added the cap "isn't as heavy as it looks," though it is a "little heavier, obviously, than a simple ball cap." FS San Diego's Mark Grant said, "The appearance has to change. A lot of players these days want to look the part, they want to look really good. That is not a good look if you're watching the game." Grant added, "It surprises me how big it it. I know it's obviously going to be a little more bulkier, but to me that's way too big. ... I don't design hats, but I tell you what, it's going to be tough to sell to players to get them to wear that." Enberg: "It's not sexy" ("Dodgers-Padres," FS San Diego, 6/21). FS1 MLB analyst C.J. Nitkowsi wrote on his Twitter feed, "For me better to just design a pitcher's helmet than a traditional cap with insert. Looks like a lost Mario brother" (TWITTER.com, 6/21). ESPN's Dallas Braden said, "These guys are not okay with wearing something that could be cumbersome or something that could take away from their approach on the mound. You have a lot to think about, especially with guys up at the plate that are paid a lot of money to square baseballs up. The last thing you need to be worried about is a piece of your uniform that could get in the way of your thought process, your balance and might throw you off. It's a little heavier than what we're used to wearing, so I'm not sure we're going to see a lot of guys making this switch until they absolutely have to." ESPN's Eduardo Perez added of Torres, "Give him a lot of credit. ... He has the presence of mind of wearing it, I applaud him for it" ("Baseball Tonight," ESPN, 6/21).
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