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Every pitcher knows that any pitch could result in a ball flying 100 mph or more right back at his head. Not all of them agree that something must be done.
"No one’s forcing you to play this game, and we’re not children," Cubs pitcher Jeff Samardzija said. "We’re playing big league baseball with grown men, so that’s the risk you take when you play this game."
Samardzija played major college football as a wide receiver at Notre Dame before he went into professional baseball, so he knows about danger in sports, and is familiar with wearing a lot more protective equipment than he does on the mound.
He is adamantly against requiring pitchers to wear anything more than they do now.
"Absolutely not. No. This game’s been played the way it’s been played for a long time," he said. "And when you sign up to play this game, no one’s forcing you to play. No one’s pulling you out there to do it. You’re choosing to do it. It’s what we love to do and obviously when you choose to play you take the risks that come with doing it."
Each major league game has at least a couple hundred pitches thrown. And there are more than 2,500 games a season. Out of all those games and all those pitches, no more than a few have a pitcher getting hit in the head.
The rarity of those occurrences is such that most pitchers put it completely out of mind — out of necessity, if nothing else.
"If you think about it while you’re out there, you’re not going to get your job done," said Chris Jakubauskas, who was hit by a line drive early in the 2010 season.
He sustained a concussion but recovered fully and is now in the Cleveland minor league organization, trying to return to the big leagues. He has more immediate problems than something that statistically improbable.
"When you take into account how many balls are put in play every single year," Jakubauskas said. "The risk is there, if you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time, you just hope you’re in a place where you can protect yourself a little bit."
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