Grateful Matt Shoemaker Considering Donning Protective Hat

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Updated: February 22, 2017

Angels’ starting pitcher Matt Shoemaker was not able to make his last few starts last year due to being walloped in the head by a scorching 105 MPH line drive. Although the staff on hand did all they could to try to calm down the bleeding, it would not slow down. The righty had to thus undergo emergency surgery at a nearby facility to officially prevent it from continuing.

In a correspondence with the Good Morning America crew last autumn, Shoemaker admitted a hint of openness with respect to the idea of wearing a protective hat.

“‘If it feels and works like a baseball hat, I’d be definitely willing to wear it.’”

Of course, the use of the term “if” signifies that the merchandise would likely require some degree of general comfort. The Toronto Blue Jays’ J.A. Happ has actually consulted with a few vendors in the past as to potential solutions after experiencing a similarly traumatizing incident back in 2013. Alas, according to writer J.P. Hoornstra, “for the vast majority, no hat on the market offers both [comfort and protection].”

Hoornstra’s point is valid since an insufficient level of comfort would result in users having to make subtle adjustments to their normal windups and deliveries. In that event, it is possible that hitters would be at an advantage if, say, a hurler’s command was adversely affected. It certainly trickles down to the professionals someway, somehow developing the perfect, middle ground remedy.

Interestingly enough, Shoe may have located his match today. Reports from the OC Register’s Jeff Fletcher suggest that Shoemaker pitched a short BP session with a padded strip of plastic inserted into his hat. Shoemaker said not too long thereafter that the plastic piece did not have any negative effects on him. Several other models will still be tested in the next assortment of days, but it is relieving to learn that strides are being made here.

Either way, what is every bit as positive to know is that Shoemaker’s mindset is in a good spot from an overall standpoint. In an article written earlier this month, Pedro Moura of The Los Angeles Times included the following parcel of information spoken of by Shoemaker.

“‘I like going out there and telling people my story: the fight, the hard work, all that stuff mixed together. Talking to people about it gives them the idea that, if it’s baseball or anything, whatever it is, just, please, work hard.’”

Such an approach is wonderful news to hear. It exemplifies, indeed, his story. The hard work is critical to focus on given that the harrowing injury could have been career threatening. Moura’s piece delves into this further by sharing some additional insight from Matt.

“‘I know how easily it could have been different, and that’s why I’m so thankful to God,’ Shoemaker said. ‘He had his hand on me that day, seriously.’”

Shoemaker’s ability to deeply digest the circumstances showcases one of the more universal truths out there that trumps the even the great game of baseball: the game of life. One can never necessarily predict and control every intricate detail it presents.

Whether Shoe ultimately chooses to slip on protective gear or not in 2017, it is tremendous that he vaulted his way past this barrier. It should make him a little more relaxed when the actual action comes to light.



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