The worst kind of baseball accident has happened again: Rays starter Alex Cobb exited Tropicana Field on a stretcher Saturday afternoon after a line drive off the bat of the Royals’ Eric Hosmer struck the pitcher in the right ear, knocking Cobb to the ground.
About 45 minutes after the incident, the Rays reported on Twitter that their young righthander had been taken to Bayfront Medical Center for further examination and that “he remained conscious the entire time.” Later, the club told reporters that Cobb had a concussion.
A particularly scary note about the incident is that the ball was traveling 102.4 miles per hour when it struck Cobb.
Now, we can only hope that Cobb makes a full and speedy recovery.
It’s been a troubling nine months in which at least four major-league pitchers have been similarly struck on the head by line drives, much-too-frequent reminders that baseball would benefit from practical, protective headgear.
In an interview with SI.com in late February, Major League Baseball senior vice president Dan Halem said such protection was “in the middle of the research and development stage.” He said there were several companies working on a prototype, but that there was no timetable for completion.
“It’s really going to be dependent on when a company is able to produce a product that offers the necessary degree of protection,” Halem said then, “and at the same time it’s a product that pitchers are going to wear.”
That Cobb was struck in the ear means certain protective headgear (such as a liner for pitchers’ caps) may not have helped in this particular instance.
The first — and worst — of the recent pitcher head injuries occurred last September when Brandon McCarthy, then with Oakland, was hit and suffered a skull fracture that required emergency surgery to relieve pressure on the brain; just a week ago, the Arizona Republic reported that McCarthy suffered a seizure related to last year’s injury but was doing okay.
About a month ago, Toronto’s J.A. Happ was hit in the head by a line drive. Like McCarthy, he also endured a skull fracture behind his ear, though he did not require surgery. He also had minor hearing loss after the incident, though he later said that his hearing was returning to normal. Coincidentally, his injury also occurred at Tropicana Field, so he too was taken to Bayfront Medical Center like Cobb was.
Also, the Tigers’ Doug Fister was hit in the head during the World Series, though he didn’t even leave the game.