Cleveland Indians catchers report for Spring Training in less than three weeks, where they will be testing a face mask that incorporates a ballistic padding used in military helmets.
Jeff Desjardins, Assist. Athletic Trainer for the Indians, told News 5 that foul tips are a serious concerns for catchers during practice and games.
“We’re one foul tip away from a catcher having a potential mild traumatic brain injury or concussion,” Desjardins explained.
The prototype face mask includes proprietary padding produced by Cleveland-based Team Wendy.
Team Wendy has been the sole provider of standard issue pad systems and retention systems for the Army and US Marine Corps for the last decade.
“We wanted to know if there’s a way to build off military headgear and perhaps develop a system that would provide more protection,” explained Lonnie Soloff, Senior Director of Medical Services for the Cleveland Indians.
At Team Wendy’s East Side facility, the helmet company tested the face mask with a simulator that is able to shoot baseballs at the equipment with a g-force of over 40. The face mask performed exceptionally well.
Desjardins said preliminary data and feedback have been positive so far.
“Hopefully we’ll be able to make an impact down the road on youth ball players as well to be able to share the knowledge that we’re developing together,” Team Wendy CEO Jose Rizo-Patron said.
The Indians first Spring Training game against the Reds is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 25 at 1:05 p.m.