Archie Bradley suffers sinus cavity damage on line drive to face

ByWilliam Weinbaum ESPN logo
Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Archie Bradley was struck in the face by a line drive Tuesday night, the third time in six weeks that a major league pitcher took a liner to the head.

The Arizona Diamondbacks rookie hit the ground immediately after a second-inning shot off the bat of Colorado's Carlos Gonzalez hit him above the jaw on the right side of his face. Bradley, a 22-year-old righty and the Diamondbacks' top starter this season, stayed face down for several minutes as trainers attended to him and teammates squatted near the mound. He was able to get to his feet, walk off the mound and let the crowd know he was OK with a thumbs-up gesture.

A scan at a Phoenix hospital didn't reveal anything of concern beyond slight sinus cavity damage, and he was back with his teammates at the stadium after Arizona's 12-5 win, answering questions from reporters in front of his locker.

"How's it going, guys?" Bradley asked, then tried to recall what happened. "I tried to throw a curveball in there for a strike and I saw the pitch going towards the plate, then I woke up and I was laying down. I got myself together and opened my eyes. I could see, wiggled my feet and the next thing I know the trainers are there."

Bradley held an ice pack to his cheek, a small bruise under his right eye having formed as his face swelled up.

"It's part of the game. Obviously you hate to see it. It hurt pretty bad," Bradley said. "But I hate it because now I don't know the diagnosis, how bad it is or even if it's bad at all."

He said he felt little pain and had no headache, but the team's medical staff is expected to have a more complete update as soon as Wednesday. The club announced during the game that Bradley never lost consciousness.

Manager Chip Hale called Bradley "a tough kid" but said it's likely he'll go on the disabled list.

Bradley also tweeted a photo of his swollen face:

Bradley and Hale both said the exit speed of the ball off Gonzalez's bat was 115 mph. Major League Baseball uses technology that measures such numbers and recently began making it available on broadcasts and online.

Gonzalez was distraught after the game, saying his night was ruined and that he intended to visit Bradley.

"That is one thing you see once in a while on the diamond that you really wish you never see when you are playing," Gonzalez said. "For me as a hitter, it's a nightmare. It's something you don't try to do. Seeing one of those guys going down, especially a guy like him, who is really young and starting his career."

Like the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw in a spring training game March 20 and theIndians' Carlos Carrasco on April 14, Bradley was hit below the cap line. The majority of the 13 active pitchers to have been struck in the head by line drives would not have been helped by the padded caps being worn by a few current big leaguers.

The 10 active pitchers who were hit in the head by liners before this year are Aroldis Chapman, Alex Cobb, John Danks, Doug Fister, J.A. Happ, David Huff, Dan Jennings, Brandon McCarthy,Juan NicasioandChris Young.

Nobody in the group is believed to have subsequently opted to wear a padded cap in a game, although Carrasco reportedly tried out protective headwear in the clubhouse Sunday. The 28-year-old Venezuelan had suffered a bruised jaw fromMelky Cabrera's liner 12 days earlier.

Mets reliever Alex Torres, who turns 28 in December and also is from Venezuela, is the only pitcher to wear Major League Baseball-approved isoBLOX cap padding. Approximately 8 ounces and made of plastic-injected molded polymers and a foam substrate, the soft padding goes around an official New Era cap and is secured at the back by an adjustable strap. MLB and the MLB Players Association approved the padding after independent testing at 83 mph -- determined to be the average speed of a line drive reaching the mound area. Even the official Rawlings MLB batting helmet is not billed as fail-safe protection against baseballs traveling in excess of 100 mph.

The exterior padding is a revision to the bulky interior-padded cap with an extended bill Torres wore with thePadresin 2014 after isoBLOX received MLB approval. The lefty was the only big leaguer to wear it last year, and the cap drew attention and derision.

On being mocked by his peers, Torres told "Outside the Lines" for a TV report airing Sunday (9 a.m. ET on ESPN, 10 on ESPN2), "I just think they care about how they're going to look on camera and how they look in the mirror, so they just don't think about what's going to be the consequence."

After Torres started wearing the cap last summer, the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum put it on display as an example of the sport's changing protective technology.

Several pitchers said the interior padding of 2014 was too heavy (it more than doubled the weight of a standard cap) and the protruding bill compromised depth perception.

Mark Panko, president of 4Licensing Corp., whose subsidiary Pinwrest makes isoBLOX, said the outside padding is no lighter than what was offered inside caps last year, but it is more user friendly and increases coverage of the skull by about 20 percent.

At least three other MLB pitchers are wearing other companies' thinner interior cap padding that MLB has neither tested nor approved. Pitchers can wear any protective headgear -- even if MLB hasn't approved it -- as long as it doesn't interfere with play or conflict with MLB licensing agreements.

Hector Noesi of theWhite Soxand Esmil Rogers of theYankeesare using Unequal Technologies' Dome, a 5 1/2-ounce composite with Kevlar, and theAstros' Collin McHugh is wearing an SST Pro Performance Head Guard, a 1.6-ounce hard carbon fiber partial insert with Kevlar padding from Safer Sports Technologies.

MLB and union officials told "Outside the Lines" last year that they are collaborating with the engineering, research and consulting company Boombang to devise alternatives to what's on the market or in the works elsewhere for pitchers' head protection.

In addition to the safety factor, broader acceptance by pitchers of any product depends in large part on its comfort and appearance. MLB officials say they haven't considered coverage beyond the cap line, such as a helmet -- which pitchers would find to be a radical change. But theRoyals' Young, who was on the Padres when he was hit in the face by an Albert Pujols liner and severely injured in 2008, has said a visor comparable to what's worn in hockey could be an eventual solution.

Elliot Kaye, chairman of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, told "Outside the Lines" this week that "the state of science [on pitchers' head protection] needs to catch up, as there are significant unknowns." Padding probably lessens the chances of fractures on direct hits, Kaye said, but might be of negligible help in preventing concussions.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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