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MLB looking at head safety for pitchers

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MLB looking at head safety for pitchers

With several high profile cases of pitchers being struck in the head by batted balls, Major League baseball is moving quickly towards improving safety on the mound. According to the Associated Press, MLB is looking at liners for pitchers’ hats and other options to prevent head injuries.

Oakland Athletics pitcher Brandon McCarthy suffered a fractured skull and a brain contusion in September after taking a ball off the head. The league tells AP the event increased the urgency to improve safety.

"After that, it kind of pushed up our timetable," MLB senior vice president Dan Halem said. "We decided to fast track it."

In Game 2 of the World Series on Thursday night Detroit Tigers pitcher Doug Fister was hit in the head by a line drive, but continued pitching after examination by the training staff. After broadcaster Tim McCarver opined on television that pitchers should wear helmets several players took to Twitter in disagreement. 

One of those players happened to be Nationals shorstop Ian Desmond who was quoted in the article by the Associated Press.

"Helmets for pitchers??? Really," he said.

The same article pointed out how Desmond himself had been involved in scary incident last season when a liner hit by the shortstop struck Rockies pitcher Juan Nicasio in the head. Nicasio broke his neck when he fell on the mound.

Desmond is a position player, but the potential mandate is just as unpopular with pitchers. Both Vance Worley and Barry Zito expressed displeasure in the piece about possibly wearing head gear on the mound.

The league says they will try to do something that won’t impair a pitcher’s ability and weight will likely be an issue. This would likely rule out any sort of helmet, at least in the traditional sense. One proposal involves lining hats with the material Kevlar which is used for bullet proof jackets.

It doesn’t sound like anything will be imposed for the 2013 major league season, but something could be tried for the minors. Either way, it sounds like an inevitable measure for Major League Baseball as they try to prevent a serious head injury happening to one of their players. McCarthy’s case was a bad one and they don’t want to see something worse.

What do you think, should pitchers be required to wear protective head gear when on the mound?

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Nationals rally against Rivero, beat Pirates 10-7

Nationals rally against Rivero, beat Pirates 10-7

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- The tag was clearly fake. What happened next was all too real for the NL East champion Washington Nationals: Bryce Harper got hurt and needs X-rays.

Harper injured his left thumb making an awkward slide to avoid a pretend tag by Pittsburgh third baseman Jung Ho Kang, and the teams later cleared the benches Sunday in Washington's 10-7 win.

Nationals manager Dusty Baker said Harper was "sore" and would have X-rays on Monday. The reigning NL MVP had surgery to repair a torn ligament in the same thumb in 2014.

Harper led off the third inning with a triple. As he neared third, Kang acted as if a throw was coming and feigned a tag.

Harper went down, was checked by a trainer and stayed in. He scored on Anthony Rendon's double and was replaced in the field in the bottom half by Chris Heisey.

Kang insisted he merely intended to keep Harper from scoring when right fielder Josh Bell's throw was way off line.

"First of all, I meant no harm," Kang said through a translator. "During the relay play, I tried to hold the runner on third base. That's all I tried to do."

The next time Kang came up, Nationals starter A.J. Cole threw a fastball behind him and was immediately ejected by plate umpire Jordan Baker as the benches emptied.

Cole said he was trying to pitch inside to Kang. Baker said the entire situation wasn't ideal for a team that is focusing on a playoff run.

"We don't want guys suspended," Baker said. "But you know, boys will be boys, and you've still got to defend your teammates."

Washington's Jayson Werth was in the middle of the skirmish. Pirates outfielder Sean Rodriguez was ejected.

"I was very surprised I was the only one ejected considering," Rodriguez said. "I got blamed for being the one that instigated, but you can watch the film yourself."

Werth had a pinch-hit, two-run homer and Heisey had a go-ahead single during a five-run burst in the eighth. The Nationals' rally came against former teammate Felipe Rivero (1-5).

Rivero had allowed just four earned runs in his previous 25 innings since being traded from Washington to the Pirates.

Kang hit a two-run homer off Koda Glover to give the Pirates the lead in the seventh.

Shawn Kelley (3-2) wound up with the win. Former Pirates closer Mark Melancon pitched a scoreless ninth for his 43rd save.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Pirates: C Francisco Cervelli did not play after taking a foul ball off his wrist Saturday. ... RHP Neftali Feliz (arm) threw off flat ground but is not yet ready for a return to the mound.

UP NEXT

Nationals: Tanner Roark (15-9 2.70 ERA) had his start pushed back one day after the Nationals clinched the NL East on Saturday night. He'll looking for his career-best 16th win as Washington hosts Arizona for a four-game series.

Pirates: Chad Kuhl (5-3, 3.73 ERA) will start as Pittsburgh begins a four-game series against the NL Central champion Chicago Cubs. Kuhl has allowed seven earned runs in 7 1/3 innings in his two previous starts against Chicago this season.

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Benches clear in confrontation between Nats and Pirates

Benches clear in confrontation between Nats and Pirates

With the division title clinched the night before, it seemed the Nationals were poised for an uneventful series finale against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday afternoon. 

That wasn't to be, as the two clubs engaged in a benches clearing altercation in the bottom of the third inning. The tension started in the top of the frame, when Bryce Harper was injured while sliding to third base on a triple. The Nats took exception to Pirates third baseman Jung-ho Kang faking a tag on Harper, which may have led to the injury. 

So when Nats starter A.J. Cole threw behind Kang in the bottom of the inning, the near-fracas was ignited.

Cole was immediately ejected from the game, benches cleared, and each side exchanged words. The Pirates' Sean Rodriguez was also ejected from the game.