Feb 23, 2017
Protecting Catchers

The Cleveland Indians’ athletic training staff knows that foul tips can bring trouble for catchers. During spring training, however, the team will begin testing a facemask prototype to help reduce the injury risk associated with them.

“We’re one foul tip away from a catcher having a potential mild traumatic brain injury or concussion,” Jeff Desjardins, ATC, Assistant Athletic Trainer for the Indians, told News 5 Cleveland.

The facemask uses proprietary military-grade ballistic padding. The padding comes from Team Wendy, which is based in Cleveland and has been the sole provider of standard issue pad systems and retention systems for the U.S. Marine Corps and the Army over the past 10 years.

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“We wanted to know if there’s a way to build off military headgear and perhaps develop a system that would provide more protection,” said Lonnie Soloff, DPT, ATC, Senior Director of Medical Services for the Indians.

In its testing for the equipment, Team Wendy used a simulator to shoot baseballs at the facemask that had G-forces higher than 40. So far, the data and feedback for the facemask have been positive.

“Hopefully, we’ll be able to make an impact down the road on youth ball players, as well as be able to share the knowledge that we’re developing together,” said Jose Rizo-Patron, Team Wendy CEO.

The Indians’ catchers will be the first to test the facemasks. The team’s first spring training game is scheduled for February 25. 

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