C.J. Wilson and Finding Comfort on the Mound

By David Hill

After getting hit in the head with a line drive while pitching batting practice, you would think that C.J. Wilson would become one of the first players to wear the new protective hat approved by major league baseball. As it turns out, that is not going to be the case. Perhaps it is due to the weight difference, with the new hats weighing 10 to 11 ounces instead of the typical three or four, but Wilson is not a fan.

"“It’s like wearing a bucket on your head,” Wilson said."

Feb 26, 2014; Tempe, AZ, USA; Los Angeles Angels pitcher C.J. Wilson heads to the field after participating in photo day at Tempe Diablo Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Justin Tooley-USA TODAY Sports

In fact, referring to the hat as a bucket may the nicest thing he had to say about the new hats. Wilson continued, in what he referred to as being polite, about the hats:

"“Literally, they’re terrible,” Wilson said. “They’re a terrible design. They’re cumbersome. It’s impossible to pitch with one of those on.”"

As entertaining as it may be to think of C.J. Wilson pitching a game while looking like this noted guitarist, his comments bring part of the problem with the protective caps to the forefront. While Major League Baseball is doing everything they can to avoid concussion issues, such as eliminating most home plate collisions and making these caps available, the problem is making players wear them. If most players feel like Wilson does, then the padded cap, while a worthy option, will just sit by unused.

In the end, it is a matter of comfort, not just with the hat, but how the pitcher feels on the mound. Wilson wanted to get back up and continue his turn pitching batting practice, but was held out by the Angels as a precaution. Knowing that Wilson feels comfortable on the mound is a great first step back. Sometimes, pitchers just cannot bounce back from being hit in the head, getting nervous or being unable to react. Herb Score is perhaps the most notable of these pitchers, having what seemed to be a promising career cut short after getting hit in the face. A comebacker later in his return shook him up, and Score was off the mound following the next year.

The biggest test for C.J. Wilson will come on Saturday, when he is scheduled to make his Cactus League debut. If everything goes well, and Wilson does indeed appear comfortable on the mound, then what was a frightening incident just resulted in a headache. Wilson could well be one of the lucky ones.