Cincinnati Reds pitcher Aroldis Chapman is expected to make a full recovery after taking a line drive off of the face during a spring training game. Sports editor Jon Styf and columnist Tom Musick discuss:
Musick: Mention "head injuries" and "sports" in the same sentence, and my first thoughts go to football, hockey and boxing. But this week offered an ugly reminder that baseball (and softball) also can be terribly dangerous, especially for pitchers. Aroldis Chapman took a 100-plus mph liner off of his face, breaking several bones and requiring surgery. He's lucky it wasn't worse.
Styf: McHenry's Mark Badgley knows a little about that. He took a batted ball to the face in 2005 while playing for Northern Illinois and ended up in a Peoria hospital (it was a road game at Bradley) with a concussion and skull fracture. Last year, Cary-Grove softball pitcher Lindsay Efflandt was hit in the face and then she and many of the other area players wore pitching masks after the incident.
Musick: I wonder where this issue goes from here. Because pitchers at every level are throwing harder than ever, which means that line drives are coming back faster than ever. Could there be a day when all high school baseball and softball pitchers are required to wear helmets with visors? I'm not sure what other options might exist, other than pushing back the mound or building a fence around the pitcher.
Styf: When Chris Burrows reported on it last year, the softball people said it was a high-powered bat issue. But, in major league baseball, that's not the problem. I hate to say it's a professional hazard there and nothing can be done, but I'm pretty sure that's true. Mark that under the (Things) happen department.
Musick: It will be interesting to see whether any big league pitchers wear the padded caps that were approved as a safety measure during the offseason. If I'm Jeff Samardzija or Chris Sale or any other tall, hard-throwing pitcher, I'm giving the padded cap a try. Because as awful as it sounds, it's only a matter of time until we're reading about another pitcher being carted off of the field and rushed to the hospital.
Styf: It will certainly happen again, with as hard as guys like Yordano Ventura and Chapman are throwing. I wouldn't want to be out there. Heck, I don't want to play catcher in soft pitch softball because I'm frightened enough of getting hit with the ball.
Musick: Out with baseball, in with curling. (I miss curling.)