Kris Bryant is returning to the Cubs lineup Saturday after missing the previous four games following a scary at-bat that ended with a fastball drilling him in the head.
The incident certainly could’ve been a lot worse. Bryant was able to walk off the field, but was still forced to sit out for the next few days. The Cubs’ third baseman says he was just following what team doctors were telling him.
Bryant says he felt "helpless" and "it could've been a lot worse." Was not medically cleared to play, he said of the 4-game absence. "I was just listening to my team doctor."
— Paul Sullivan (@PWSullivan) April 28, 2018
Bryant did reportedly pass concussion tests and teammates said he was fine following the incident. Still, it’s hard not to be a little shaken up when something like that happens.
Which hardly makes Bryant’s new safety decision surprising.
The 2016 MVP is now the latest player to attach a C-Flap to his batting helmet.
It’s not a new sight in the Major Leagues, but it’s certainly becoming more and more common across baseball. Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, Jason Heyward and Miguel Cabrera all sport the C-Flap on their helmets.
Giancarlo Stanton made the switch to the C-Flap after being hit in the face during the 2014 season. Milwaukee’s Keon Broxton credits it with saving his life after a wild pitch deflected off it last season.
As All-Star batters get better at making adjustments at the plate, it’s going to become more common to see pitchers attempt to paint the inside corners while searching for outs. And that’s going to lead to more players getting hit.
It comes with the job. It also makes you wonder how much longer until all players are wearing the C-Flap.
MLB is notoriously slow when it comes to changing the game for the better, so it’s not like we’d expect to see a new rule grandfathering these helmets in anytime soon. Besides, the players are doing a pretty good job of integrating the helmet into their lives all by themselves.
No one wants to see a player get hit in the head — MLB certainly doesn’t want to see any of it’s most marketable players take a fastball to the face — but it’s an occupational hazard that isn’t going anywhere.
The C-Flap can at least mitigate the damage. It’s a smart adoption for the sport’s top stars. Even if guys like Bryant have to embrace it the hard way.
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