San Diego Relief pitcher Alex Torres became the first major league player to wear a protective padded cap in a game when he donned the isoBlox cap pitching against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Saturday.
Fans may jeer. But they don’t stand sixty feet, six inches from Ryan Howard, Giancarlo Stanton, and Troy Tulowitzki.
The hat, which has an oversized bulky front façade, appears gigantic and has been the focus of fans and teammate ridicule. San Diego head athletic trainer Todd Hutcheson, who has worn the hat while pitching batting practice, said he received quite a bit of ribbing for it: “Guys were hoarse laughing and saying ‘Look, hey, super Mario.”
ESPN reported that Torres became motivated to wear the hat as a result of being traumatized watching his teammate Alex Cobb last year get hit in the head with a line drive off the bat of Kansas City’s first baseman Eric Hosmer. “I was in the bullpen and was in shock, I was in shock,” Torres told Outside the Lines in a phone interview. “I was scared for a couple of minutes and hoped God would give a good sign–there was no stirring and I was hoping Alex was OK and would show signs of life.”
Despite its funny appearance, Hutchinson asserted, “As hard as balls are being hit now, if guys can protect themselves, I don’t care what it looks like.” The ball that hit Cobb on the right side of the head was estimated to have traveled 102.4 mph. The hat is made with soft padding and has a “plastic injection molded polymers combined with a foam substrate,” which are crafted to diffuse the blow and render the impact less severe.
Torres says that his teammates didn’t believe him when he said he was going to wear the protective hat. Torres reasoned that it would be a good idea since he has family andif he gets hit he’ll be glad he was wearing it. Reflecting on his teammates misfortune, the Padres southpaw explained: “If that happens [to me], I want it to be with this cap on.”