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Tampa Bay Rays catcher Jose Lobaton, left, and left fielder Kelly Johnson, center, rush in to assist starting pitcher Alex Cobb as Cobb grabs his head and lies on the pitcher's mound after being hit by a line drive by Kansas City Royals' Eric Hosmer during the fifth inning of a baseball game Saturday, June 15, 2013, in St. Petersburg, Fla. Cobb was taken off the field on a stretcher. (AP Photo/Brian Blanco)
Pitcher safety against liners still issue for baseball
MLB » Twice this season pitchers have been hit by line drives.
First Published Jun 19 2013 08:45 am • Last Updated Jun 29 2013 04:59 pm

Cleveland Indians reliever Vinnie Pestano has a recurring dream. A batter hits a line drive right back up the middle and it’s screaming toward his head.

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He wakes up just before impact.

The real thing is a nightmare scenario that happens a couple times a season in the major leagues.

"Guys are bigger now and hitting the ball harder and we’re throwing the ball harder and when a guy hits one right on the screws bad things can happen," Pestano said.

Most recently, it happened Saturday night in Florida.

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story continues below

Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Alex Cobb took a nasty shot off his head from the bat of Kansas City’s Eric Hosmer. That was the second time this season everyone in the stadium at a Rays game held their breath. In early May, on the very same mound, Toronto left-hander J.A. Happ took a nasty shot off his head.

Happ won’t return until July — at the soonest. There’s no timetable for Cobb yet, though he’s home from the hospital.

In the meantime, baseball is left to figure out how to protect pitchers before one gets hurt in a more serious way.

It’s not just a player’s health and livelihood at stake. Teams also lose money when their players are on the disabled list. While Major League Baseball has been auditioning various types of equipment to protect pitchers, nothing has made the cut yet.

Any gear would have to stay in place during the violent, whole-body motion of pitching, not hinder its effectiveness and, of course, effectively protect their heads in event of an impact.

"I really hope something gets done because it’s time to act," Royals pitcher Bruce Chen said. "I know it will probably take a couple of years to get it done, but let’s do it. Too many guys are getting hurt."

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