Imagine being an MLB pitcher. Standing sixty feet, six inches from the batter with nothing but air in between. Suddenly, in a blink of an eye you’re hit with a line drive and on the ground in immense pain. Unfortunately, this became a reality for Cincinnati Reds star closer Aroldis Chapman this past week.
Pitching in a meaningless spring training game last week, Aroldis Chapman was struck in the face by a ball. Chapman is known for throwing extremely hard including throwing the fastest pitch ever recorded at 105 mph. After throwing a 99 mph fastball, the ball was hit back at an estimated 112 mph which struck Chapman right above his left eye. He immediately hit the ground and was kicking his feet in pain. The result was a fractured bone in his face, a laceration above his eye, and a mild concussion. He required surgery the day after to insert a metal plate into his face and can resume pitching in 4-8 weeks.
There have been talks for many years within MLB about protecting pitchers on the mound. A prototype helmet was created for pitchers to wear during the game but hasn’t been tried out yet. Pitchers have stated they wouldn’t wear the helmet because it would be uncomfortable and effect their performance, but something has to be done. Chapman was very lucky that his injuries weren’t worse than they were. I still do not know how he escaped a brain injury after watching the video.
Even if Chapman was wearing a helmet, the ball struck him in the face which still would have been unprotected. A helmet may not be the solution, but something must be done before a player dies on the field.