Saturday night San Diego Padres’ lefty reliever Alex Torres made Major League Baseball history. In a loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers, Torres pitched one inning, walking two, striking out two and allowing a run scoring single. Sound pretty darn exciting and historic, doesn’t it?
Well, it wasn’t what Torres did with the ball that mattered Saturday night, it was the cap that donned his head. Torres became the first pitcher in MLB to wear the new protective cap that was approved for pitchers by MLB back in January. It’s not the most flattering piece of clothing ever designed and it certainly made a statement but it was brave of Torres to be the first to try out what could literally save lives someday.
Before Torres no one had wanted to try it, not even Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Brandon McCarthy who was hit in the head with a line drive while playing for Oakland in 2012. He had to undergo emergency brain surgery that has left him with lasting effects such as seizures. Even Cincinnati Reds’ closer Aroldis Chapman, who made headlines during spring training for being hit in the face with a line drive, has not tried it. This is again surprising given that Chapman had to have multiple surgeries to repair and reconstruct the bones surrounding his left eye.
McCarthy told ESPN that he won’t wear the cap because it isn’t ready yet.
“Hopefully, in a couple years, they can come up with something that everyone wears and that you don’t notice it being on your head while out there. I hope it gets there. But right now, it’s just not there.”
Apparently Torres, who ordered the cap last month and has been wearing it on and off during practice and while playing catch, didn’t find it to be too noticeable. He told MLB.com,
“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.”
While it is noticeable from the outside and Torres was criticized by fans all over the internet wearing the cap seems like the smart thing to do, regardless of what people may say or do.
Torres was acquired from the Tampa Bay Rays in a trade over the off-season. He knows, well almost, first hand how bad it can be when a pitcher gets hit by a line drive. His Rays’ teammate Alex Cobb was hit just last year. Torres, who came in to pitch for the injured Cobb, told CNN on Sunday,
“I came in after Alex Cobb was hit in the head. That’s really an impression to me, how his head sounded from the bullpen.
According to MLB.com Torres also said,
“It could save our lives, if someone hits a ball to your head. I get it for free, so I’m just gonna use it to see how it feels.
Torres may have been mocked by so-called fans all over the internet but he is the one with his head on straight. Due to that special cap that, in my opinion, all pitchers should be wearing, his head should stay that way. Smart man, that Alex Torres.