Yankees third baseman Chase Headley gets hit in the jaw with a pitch.
By Brendan Kuty
BALTIMORE — Chase Headley will wear a helmet with a protective mask attached to it to protect his hurt jaw, which was nailed with a 96-mph fastball, when he returns to the Yankees’ lineup.
Headley said the shield will resemble the one worn by Braves outfielder Jason Heyward, which covers about half his face.
“It doesn’t feel any different” than a normal helmet, Headley told NJ.com Saturday. “You can see it a little bit out of the corner of your eyes. I’m sure that will be an adjustment.
“At the same token, if I were to get hit there again right now, I don’t know how well I could handle that. It’s just sore to touch. I’ll deal with the uncomfortableness for a short period of time.”
Headley said the Yankees created the mask for a player a while back. “They just kind of screwed it in there and put it on, just for temporary stuff,” he said.
The third baseman said the mask won’t totally protect him from re-injuring his jaw, which needed stitches, but it would help.
“The way the helmet’s crafted, it’s probably going to get up against (my jaw),” Headley said. “But it’s going to provide a lot more cushion than I would have had. … The helmet fits tight but if you hit it, it’s going to spin a little bit. But it’s going to be better than being hit by a ball.
Headley was hit with the pitch Thursday night at Yankee Stadium. It came from the hand of the Rays’ pitcher Jake McGee and it knocked down Headley, causing him to bleed from his mouth and miss the Yankees past three games.
Headley said he hopes to play Monday. On Saturday, he hit in a batting cage and spent 20 minutes on a stationary bike. The exercise was meant to see whether an increased heart rate would trigger concussion symptoms. He said he felt fine after the workout and plans to take regular batting practice and grounders Sunday.
He added that he believes that getting big-league players to wear face masks at the plate would difficult. The same night Headley got hit, Marlins star Giancarlo Stanton was pegged in the cheek. Stanton sustained facial fractures and dental damage.
“There would have to be some serious design on it,” he said. “People have been doing it (without a mask) for so long, you get used to this. It might be something like, the way the NHL did it, they grandfathered in the players who haven’t worn the shield and they got the younger guys wearing them. So maybe something like that because if you start with it you get used to it. But for guys who have been around and played your whole career without it, it would be a tough sell.”
Headley said he doesn’t expect to wear the shield when he’s fully recovered. But …
“If I come out there and hit a couple of homers with that thing on, maybe I’ll have to stick with it,” he said.