Would you wear a heavier and perhaps clunkier cap if it might help protect you from a line drive to the head?
Every pitcher will face that question when
The cap that will be available this spring is the first of what MLB officials hope will be several models developed by competing companies. Use of the cap will be voluntary in the major and minor leagues.
The protective lining adds seven ounces to the weight of a cap, which is usually three to four ounces, said Jim Foster, chief executive officer of 4Licensing Corporation (4LC), the parent company of the cap manufacturer. Foster said he had no sense for how many pitchers might choose to wear the cap.
"The early adopters of the protective cap will probably be those who have either been hit and struck, or in a game in which they have been witness to a vicious comebacker," Foster said on a conference call.
Company officials were taken aback by McCarthy's comments, saying that he had tried a prototype and that 4LC would offer custom fitting to every major league pitcher.
"It's a work in progress," said company executive Stacy Weiland. "When we get into spring training, we'll fit pitchers and fine-tune hats just for them."
"It really doesn't feel that much different once you get used to it," Kershaw told
About a dozen companies have approached MLB about making protective caps, said Dan Halem, executive vice president for labor relations. Halem said three companies have submitted products for approval, with the 4LC product the first to meet the standard of significant protection at an impact of 83 mph, the average speed of a comebacker, according to an MLB study.
Foster said the 4LC cap would provide a lesser degree of protection against a line drive at higher velocity.
Halem said he hopes pitchers will consider the 4LC cap and said he expects Tuesday's announcement, made by 4LC and not by MLB, to spur competition.
"If only a couple players are willing to wear it, it is not a product that will ultimately have a big impact on protecting pitchers," Halem told The Times. "If players do not like the product, hopefully something else will come along."
The potential bonanza is not in MLB but in youth baseball. Weiland said a youth version — smaller, with a one-size-fits-all liner designed to fit into an adjustable cap — would be available starting in March at $59.99 each.