Baseball has long looked at ways to reduce the risk of pitchers getting hurt by line drives. The latest solution was tested by Astros pitchers over the weekend.
The Padres' Alex Torres made waves earlier this season wearing the safer, padded hat that dwarfs any head wearing it. Some of those hats, with Astros logos, reside in the Houston clubhouse. On Saturday, some of the pitchers tried the new caps out during pitchers' fielding practice.
As safe as those caps may be, it doesn't appear as if they'll see the light of game action anytime soon.
"It's pretty bulky," Josh Fields said. "I don't think I could focus that well if I wore it in a game. I think we'll stick with the other ones. I thought we could give it a go for PFP's today."
Fields did acknowledge the bigger hats were safer.
"I mean, you can feel it (if it hits)," he said. "It's still going to hurt, but I guess it's better than hitting right on the skull. So I guess it serves its purpose, but I think it's a little bulky."
Collin McHugh also tested it out. He agreed with Fields.
"It's different," McHugh said. "It's heavy and big and kind of clunky, but I guess for what it is, it's supposed to do the job. I don't think I'd wear it in a game, but I thought I'd try it out.
"It fits pretty tight," he added. "But it's just big and heavy. I don't know, once you've been wearing a small, regular hat for a long time, even a helmet today felt super weird to me, so maybe it wouldn't be as bad for hitters, but I think for pitchers, it's a little strange."
The look of the hat definitely makes it stick out, and not necessarily the best way. While safe, the hat could be compared with those worn by video game characters Super Mario and Luigi.
"I think (the appearance) definitely has something to do with (the hesitance to wear it)," McHugh said. "Obviously, baseball players like to look as good as possible. Having this thing out there is a little bit of an eye sore. I feel like they could work from here though. They've got a base of what they want to do. It's just a matter of slimming it down and toning it out."
Actually, McHugh could have an alternative. A friend of his made a kevlar cap insert that can slide in the inside of whichever side faces the plate during a pitcher's follow-through. If used, the kevlar insert is almost unnoticeable, making it perhaps a more realistic solution for baseball in its safety quest: something that seems safer, yet is not a fashion faux pas.