Chicago Cubs pitcher, Jeff Samardzija, is resisting calls from his fellow professionals for pitchers to be given more protection against the possibility of a ball being struck straight back in their direction and he feels that, despite recent injuries, pitchers should accept the risks.
Calls to improve pitcher safety have intensified after Tampa Bay Rays’ Alex Cobb was hit on the head on Saturday night; this followed another unsightly incident at the same ground back in May when J.A Happ of Toronto received a fractured skull after also being hit on the head.
Despite these incidents, however, Samardzija was keen to stress that players knew the risks. "No one's forcing you to play this game, and we're not children," the 28 year old said. "We're playing big league baseball with grown men, so that's the risk you take when you play this game," he added.
Samardzija, who had played college football, as well as baseball, at Notre Dame, had initially intended to play in both the NFL and the MLB but, after being selected as a fifth round pick in the 2006 draft he decided to focus his attention solely on baseball.
Having significant experience of playing football at a high level, Samardzija knows all about protective equipment but he feels that protecting pitchers too much could affect the tradition and heritage of baseball.
“This game's been played the way it's been played for a long time," he said. "And when you sign up to play this game, no one's forcing you to play. No one's pulling you out there to do it.”
Samardzija’s view may be at odds with many of his fellow pitchers but it is clear that the MLB must act now to prevent further series injuries to their stars on the mound.
Whatever is decided, Samardzija will be hoping that it does not affect his form as he looks to guide the Cubs away from the bottom end of the National League Central standings.