N.Y.'s David Wright Returns as Pitcher's Headache With New Rawlings Helmet

Wendy AdairAnalyst IAugust 31, 2009

NEW YORK - AUGUST 20:  David Wright #5 of the New York Mets looks on as his team plays the Atlanta Braves on August 20, 2009 at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

When David Wright is activated from the disabled list tomorrow, he should already have in his possession the new S100 batting helmet from Rawlings that will hopefully protect him from another concussion.

Wright has had a very bizarre season so far with career high strikeout pace and career low home runs and RBI's, but make no mistake, this guy cannot be taken lightly and should never be considered an easy out.

He has also played with several nagging leg injuries and had actually been run down with the flu when he was hit in the head on August 15.  Prior to the concussion he had only missed two games all season, May 30 (fatigue) and August 11 (flu symptoms).

The new helmet has been tested and should prove to be invaluable in preventing many concussions as it is designed to withstand thrown pitches at 100mph. 

Today's Major League pitchers are exceeding 90 mph at an alarming rate and batters need to be protected in order to avoid serious injury in the event that they are not able to duck out of the way in time.

Rawlings is sending one to Colorado for him to use, and it should be available before tomorrow night's game at Coors Field. Even if it is not, though, Wright will be in there to face any possible batter's box fears that may reside in the back of his head.

Ryan Dempster of the Cubs wore a slightly different version of the new helmet on Saturday and the new S100 helmets will become mandatory for all the players in the Minor Leagues next season. 

Scott Rolen and Marco Scutaro have also both spent time on the Disabled List after being hit in the head with pitches.

While the up and in pitches are a part of baseball, getting hit in the head is very dangerous and the players need to be protected. 

The Baseball Commissioner's Office has taken a very strong stand on pitchers who throw at batter's heads and suspensions and fines will result if they feel that the intent to injure is present.

The game in which the head injury to Wright occurred was the Saturday Fox Game of the week on national television, and the entire baseball world gasped and prayed for both David Wright and his family. 

His parents and the youngest of his three brothers were in attendance that day and it had to be an extremely traumatic experience for them to witness.  Wright admitted it was probably harder on them than it was on him, he was in a lot of pain but dazed and shook up, according to Mets teammate Jeff Francoeur.

Here is a quote from ESPN.com: "He was all shook up when I came in," Francoeur said. "He was scared."

Hiroki Kuroda and Ian Kinsler were also injured that same day with blows to the head, Kuroda by a ball hit back through the pitchers mound and Kinsler by a thrown pitch.  Wright and Kuroda were both hospitalized overnight after CAT scans confirmed that concussions were suffered.

Wright has been disabled since August 16th with post-concussion symptoms and is due to be activated before tomorrow's opener in Denver. He joined his teammates in Chicago this past weekend after being cleared by the medical staff; he took batting and fielding practice and is feeling fine.

Earlier that week, Wright was asked about wearing the new helmet, and he said that he was fine with what he was currently wearing but added that he had faith in Rawlings to make a quality product and would gladly wear it for protection.

Matt Cain of the San Francisco Giants hit Wright in the left earflap of his batting helmet with a 94 mph fastball and Wright was spun around and fell on his side and laid face down on the ground motionless for a few minutes. 

The trainers and manager Jerry Manuel immediately came running out and Gary Sheffield who was the on deck hitter ran to home plate to attend to Wright.

After he was rolled over on his back, he sat up for a few moments to have his eyes examined, he was helped to his feet by the trainers and  walked off the field on his own power to relieved applause from the Citi Field fans.

Matt Cain and the other Giants players were all extremely upset and concerned for Wright, and he and Cain did speak by phone the next day and shake hands two days later. 

Seeing Wright walk off the field was a huge relief to Cain and to whoever was watching because honestly it looked  like Wright was going to have to be carted off by stretcher when the initial impact sent him face down and motionless on the ground.

Besides Cain, several Giants players and coaches texted and called Wright the next day to let him know that the pitch was not intentional and that they were wishing a speedy recovery.

Wright is of the belief that the pitch was accidental, not like the pitch that Brad Thompson of the St Louis Cardinals threw earlier in the month that narrowly avoided hitting Wright in the head.

Thompson was fined and suspended for three games, he appealed the suspension and the suspension was reduced to two games.  Tony La Russa was very disappointed in his pitcher for the location but did say that he thought the suspension was unfair.

Jerry Manuel has already said that Wright will not play every game initially, and he knows that Wright will no doubt protest the decision to rest him every other game. 

It will not be easy for him to sit and watch on the sidelines if he is feeling well  but he understands and appreciates his manager's concern and what is done is ultimately for his best interest.

Baseball players want to be in there helping their team; they do not want to be spectators. If Wright feels good after the first game, he will want to be in there for the next several days, but knows that it will be a battle. 

He is a proven warrior who wants to be in there every day no matter what and his games played numbers for his five plus years career speak for themselves.

The Mets have been decimated by injuries this season, and Wright did not think that he would be one of the injured players. He was actually embarrassed at first that there was a need to go on the disabled list two weeks ago.

Wright is as tough and competitive as they come and is extremely anxious to get back in there and help the Mets win as many of their remaining games as possible.

Jerry Manuel and Howard Johnson have both commented in recent days that Wright seems to be fresh and thinking clearly and they know that they have to monitor him closely to make sure he doesn't overdo his workload until he plays several games.

Tomorrow night will be a test for David Wright, but those that know him and his competitive spirit are confident that he will be ready for any challenge that comes his way and will meet it and most likely prevail.


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