Recent Head Injuries Bring Attention to Hazards Faced by MLB Catchers

It has been a difficult spring for Oakland A’s catcher Derek Norris. The current leader among American League catchers in All-Star balloting is also the unofficial leader in hits received to the head from opposing batters this season.

Derek Norris

Norris’ most recent run-in with an opposing hitter’s backswing came on Sunday afternoon when Jonathan Herrera of the Boston Red Sox caught him square in the side of the helmet while swinging at a Fernando Abad pitch. The frightful incident left Norris face down in the dirt behind home plate in obvious pain. Norris left the game and was taken to hospital for a precautionary CT scan which fortunately indicated no serious damage.

Losing Norris for an extended period would be a blow to the A’s, who currently sit comfortably atop the standings in the American League West, and are 13/2 favorites in futures wagering to capture their first World Series title since 1989.

Sunday’s incident isn’t the first time this season that Norris has been at the receiving end of an opposing batter’s backswing. Norris missed a start earlier this month after being hit in the helmet by the Baltimore Orioles’ Manny Machado. Once again, Norris escaped serious injury.

Norris is also not the only catcher this season to suffer a serious blow to the head.

Gerald Laird of the Atlanta Braves endured a particularly painful opposing at-bat earlier this season. After a foul ball off the bat of the Colorado Rockies’ Corey Dickerson caught Laird directly in the mask, Dickerson made solid contact with Laird’s head on a backswing just two pitches later.

Like Norris, Laird was dropped to the dirt by the backswing and was taken out of the game, but was fortunate not to suffer a concussion. Braves’ pitcher David Carpenter retaliated by beaning Dickerson with a fastball to the leg on his next pitch, leading to an escalation of tensions that led to several player ejections.

Detroit Tigers’ catcher Alex Avila was also the unlucky recipient of a David Ortiz backswing to the face mask earlier this month. The Red Sox slugger has gained a reputation for clipping catchers in the head when taking a big cut at a pitch.  Unlike Norris and Laird, Avila missed action with a mild concussion.

The recent incidents have led Norris to rethink his positioning behind the plate. While he is making adjustments to his game, he has been vocal in published reports about the need to protect catchers from unnecessary injury in the same way hitters are protected from predatory pitchers. The lawyers from can help in court related matters when it comes to injury cases.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: