Posted June 15, 2013

Rays’ Cobb leaves game on stretcher after line drive to the head

AL East, pitcher protection, Tampa Bay Rays
Tampa Bay's Alex Cobb is just the latest in a host of pitchers to be injured off a hit. (Brian Blanco/AP)

Tampa Bay pitcher Alex Cobb is just the latest in a host of pitchers to be injured by the ball from a batter’s hit. (Brian Blanco/AP)

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.

The very difficult to watch video is here:

http://wapc.mlb.com/play/?content_id=28049049

A particularly scary note about the incident is that the ball was traveling 102.4 miles per hour when it struck Cobb.

Later, the Tampa Bay Times’ beat writer, Marc Topkin, tweeted that teammate David Price, as well as Cobb’s father and girlfriend, all rushed from the ballpark to the hospital too.

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.

5 comments
AllenTenn
AllenTenn

I would imagine that if you took the number of pitches thrown over the course of a season and compared that number with the number of times a struck ball hit a pitcher (not just in the noodle) it would be a vanishingly small percentage. Not worth the worry.

JasonDockins
JasonDockins

Mlb makes 1st and 3rd base coaches wear helmets and chances of them getting hit is much less compared to the pitcher

riley8
riley8

Apparently MLB won't be doing much of anything until someone is killed.  

MikeHarrison
MikeHarrison

@MarkBritten @riley8  

Why not? The other day a kid playing little league, took a line drive off the head, and it hit the helmet and not the head.  The kid was taken to the hospital and was released the next day, and the helmet was shattered.  Just think of the damage that was not done to the kids skull since the helmet saved his skull