Granderson HBP, Breaks Finger; Hasn't Technology Made These Injuries Avoidable?
More to the point, does anybody else need to be next?
Batters getting nailed in the fingers and wrists by inside fastballs make an impact on the disabled list every season. Millions of dollars of contracts are neutralized, players who fans pay to see are not available for weeks at a time, and pennant races are significantly affected.
This is a similar situation to where the NFL was with its quarterbacks, until 1978.
That's when a dude named Byron Donzis strolled into a Houston hospital, clad in a trenchcoat, with an associate alongside who was carrying a baseball bat. As unthinkable as this scenario would be today, it wasn't difficult for him to make his way to the room where Oilers' quarterback Dan Pastorini was recuperating from a rib injury. Donzis removed his coat to reveal a revolutionarily designed flak jacket and instructed his associate to take a full swing at his ribs.
As quickly as it took Pastorini to return to the field with his new equipment, the standard of QB safety in the NFL was raised forever.
It's time for baseball to take a harder look at the state of protective technology.
A little company from Valencia, California has developed a kevlar-enhanced batting glove that it claims can disperse the force of a 100mph impact to a net effect equivalent to that of a 39mph impact. It's called XProTex, and its products are not unknown to the pros. An early model of the gloves were distributed in selected spring training camps three years ago. Rays manager Joe Madden was so impressed by them, he predicted XProTex gloves would enjoy widespread popularity throughout the major-league ranks.
To date, it hasn't happened. One reason why is the equipment contracts players sign with more mainstream manufacturers. Meanwhile, XProTex gloves have improved markedly.
Would it have diminished the disabling damage to Vogelsong and Granderson? All that's certain is the pitches that hit them weren't traveling 100mph.
Eight-year-olds throw 39mph fastballs. When they hit batters' hands -- and they do -- trips to the emergency room remain a rarity. And they're usually back in the lineup for the next game.