New MLB batting helmets provide extra protection

Eric Stephen | True Blue LA

Rawlings designed a new MLB batting helmet that is said to be 300 percent stiffer and 100 percent stronger than the previous standard across the league.

On Friday afternoon at Camelback Ranch in the second inning, Dodgers pitcher Zack Greinke hit Chris Denorfia of the Padres with a pitch in the third inning. The pitch hit Denorfia in the head, but was able to shake it off without any incident and walk to first base.

Denorfia was wearing the new Rawlings S100 Pro Comp batting helmet, the official batting helmet of Major League Baseball. Rawlings designed the helmet as part of the collective bargaining agreement between the players and owners signed late in 2011, covering the 2012-2016 seasons.

Roughly 200 MLB players wore the helmets to test them last season, including Nick Punto of the Dodgers. Punto was playing third base and had a clear view of Denorfia getting hit in the head on Friday.

"It was nice to see him just bounce up and head to first base, and waive the trainers off right away. I know that MLB is taking concussion syndrome very seriously, and it's nice to see how protective they are," Punto said. "These things, they can't break. With the old helmets you would throw them and they'd break."

The helmets are constructed of a carbon-fiber composite that Rawlings says is aerospace grade, and are said to be 300 percent stiffer and 130 percent stronger than the previous MLB standard helmets.

"Protecting our players with the latest innovations in protection equipment is a top priority of Major League Baseball," said MLB executive Dan Halem in a release. "Last year the Rawlings S100 Pro Comp received a great reception from the MLB players that chose to wear it, and we’re pleased to take the next step and roll it out league-wide."

Dodgers clubhouse manager Mitch Poole said he threw one of the new helmets against a wall just to test it, and it didn't break.

"There's definitely a difference," said Punto of the new and old helmets. "It gives us a peace of mind out there."

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