St. Louis Cardinals: Kolten Wong saved by helmet extension

CINCINNATI, OH - AUGUST 5: Kolten Wong /

The St. Louis Cardinals and Kolten Wong both survived a serious scare. Wong was struck by a 97-mph fastball and saved by his helmet extension.

St. Louis Cardinals second baseman Kolten Wong took a 97-mph fastball to the face but was saved by the mouth guard extension of his batting helmet. Luis Castillo, the Cincinnati Reds pitcher who hit him, is known for his high-velocity fastball and went a bit too high and a bit too inside. Luckily, no injury occurred.

After being struck by the pitch, Wong fell to the ground but quickly returned to his feet and walked around the infield with St. Louis Cardinals team trainers before taking first base. If not for the unique extension that he and many other players use, he would have suffered serious injuries and likely lost numerous teeth.

The St. Louis Cardinals infielder told reporters, “Right where the ear and the protector connects, it hit me right there … If I don’t have that, I’m spitting out teeth.”

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The St. Louis Cardinals ended up defeating the Cincinnati Reds 4-1 but could have suffered a huge loss if Wong was injured. Wong is having a strong season when he has been healthy and this setback would have taken significant time to recover from. He’s played in 70 games so far, batting .296/.385/.413 as one of the most consistent hitters on a very inconsistent St. Louis Cardinals team.

Mitch Haniger of the Seattle Mariners, Giancarlo Stanton of the Miami Marlins and Chris Iannetta of the Arizona Diamondbacks have been just a few victims to have taken pitches to the face. Almost always these result in concussions, skull and facial fractures, and contusions.

Wong is one of the lucky ones who was saved by a custom extension to cover and protect more of the face. The St. Louis Cardinals second baseman also explained that he began wearing the helmet with extra protection in Spring Training after witnessing other players suffer serious injuries. His St. Louis Cardinals teammate Yadier Molina also sports a similar protective helmet.

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Maybe Wong and his Saturday scare will bring even more attention to the issues of player safety. The custom extension covering the mouth isn’t going to prevent all of these types of injuries, but it can be a proper step forward. And let’s not forget that just as the batters are vulnerable in the box, the pitchers are left unprotected on the mound. Regardless, the St. Louis Cardinals, Kolten Wong and the fans can all breathe a bit easier knowing he is okay.