Windsor pitcher can relate to J.A. Happ line drive scare
30 years ago, John LaMantia had his skull fractured by a line drive
A scary incident at Tuesday night's Toronto Blue Jays game has re-kindled debate around protecting pitchers.
Jays pitcher J.A. Happ was hit in the head by a line drive and left the field on a stretcher. He was released from hospital Wednesday.
Happ's injury is one John LaMantia can relate to.
"I Thought back to 30 years ago," LaManita said.
That's when LaMantia was a 21-year-old junior pitcher, on the mound at Windsor's Stodgell Park, when a line drive fractured his skull.
It was more than two decades before he took the mound again, in a local senior league.
"It's part of the baseball game and you know you take that risk when you take the mound," he said.
Since Happ was hit, there has been talk of making pitchers wear Kevlar-lined hats on the mound.
However, people in the local baseball community, including LaManita, are skeptical anything can be done.
He doesn't think putting helmets or Kevlar-lined hats on pitchers is realistic.
Neither does Dave Cooper, a former pitcher himself, and now a coach with the Tecumseh Thunder Juniors.
Cooper said a lot of injuries from so-called "comebackers" could be prevented by better technique.
"Landing square, being in a fielding position. That's your best bet for not being hurt," Cooper said.
Joel Pierce, 20, a pitcher for the Thunder, said comebackers are "probably the last thing you'd want to think about when you're throwing."
"Because the better you throw the pitch, the less chance there is of that happening," he said. "But, everyone throws bad pitches and eventually some come right back and hopefully you can get out of the way in time."
He doesn't agree with pitchers wearing helmets, either. He said it could make things worse.
"I think that would hinder his throwing, which would ultimately lead to more balls being hit right back at him," Pierce said. "But I think maybe, a little padding on the hat maybe [could work].
"The only thing they have to worry about is keeping the weight distribution the same, because if you had a heavy head, it'll be harder to throw a pitch."
MLB staff have said a cap liner with Kevlar, the high-impact material used by military, law enforcement and NFL players for body armour, is among the ideas under consideration.
The liners, weighing perhaps five ounces or less, would go under a pitcher's cap and help protect against line drives that often travel over 100 mph.
With files from the Associated Press