Sometimes you have to sacrifice beauty for safety. Alex Torres won't be winning any fashion contests with his choice of hats, but it may help him avoid dangerous head injuries.
On Saturday night, the San Diego Padres' relief pitcher became the first Major League Baseball hurler to use the new protective caps introduced earlier in the year.
As you can see in the picture below, there's a bit of a difference between the isoBlox hat and a normal baseball cap, as Colorado Rockies pitcher Brett Anderson joked:
You can hardly even notice it... pic.twitter.com/WF55Ziw9Mg— Brett Anderson (@BAnderson_30) June 22, 2014
William Weinbaum of Outside The Lines wrote in January:
In addition to the added thickness, the padding adds seven ounces to the weight of a cap, which currently weighs three to four ounces, said 4Licensing chief executive officer Bruce Foster. The padding is to be sent to New Era to sew into MLB's official custom-fitted caps.
According to Dennis Lin of U-T San Diego, the impetus behind the decision came courtesy of a close call during spring training: "Alex Torres said a close call in spring training scared him a bit. Ordered the protective cap about a month ago. Arrived a week ago."
Torres told Lin the hat "doesn't feel bad," adding, "the difference between the regular hat and this hat is not really that big."
Torres, 26, has a 2.10 ERA on the year through 31 games and 30 innings pitched. On Saturday, he pitched one inning and gave up one hit and one earned run while striking out two and walking two as well. The Padres lost to the Dodgers 4-2.
Although many will make light of Torres' decision and the resulting visual, baseball writer Wendy Thurm correctly pointed out that head injuries are no laughing matter:
That Alex Torres protective cap photo is hilarious haha like when a pitcher suffers a serious head injury haha.— Wendy Thurm (@hangingsliders) June 22, 2014
Considering how big and bulky the caps are, it may take some time for them to catch on with a majority of pitchers in the league. But any trend toward player safety is a step in the right direction.