Dempster models protective helmet
Starter tests new gear designed to withstand 100-mph pitch
CHICAGO -- Lou Piniella needed a neck rub after trying it on. Ryan Dempster felt it helped his aerodynamics on the bases.
The two tested a new batting helmet, designed by Rawlings, which is designed to withstand the impact of pitches at speeds of up to 100 mph. Dempster wore it Saturday in the Cubs' 11-4 win over the New York Mets.
Piniella just tried it on in the dugout. That was enough for him.
"I put it on for about 30 seconds, and I needed a massage," Piniella said. "[Dempster] is Canadian. He's probably worn that type of helmet playing hockey, but boy, it's heavy."
Dempster, who picked up the win, wasn't real comfortable in the larger helmet.
"I felt like a Smurf," Demspter said. "It actually made me faster, because all I had to do was lean forward and it moved me in that direction."
Maybe there's something to that. Dempster did score from first on Milton Bradley's double in the third inning.
The Cubs pitcher volunteered to try out the new headgear. The bulky design may make it a tough sell.
"I don't really think the fear of me getting pitched inside is too great," Dempster said. "I just thought I'd try it out to see how it felt. It felt like my own bobblehead day today. I have a big enough head as it is. They could probably see that from the top of the Sears Tower."
Earlier this month, the Mets shared their thoughts on the protective helmets.
"No, I am absolutely not wearing that," Mets outfielder Jeff Francoeur told The New York Times. "I could care less what they say, I'm not wearing it. There's got to be a way to have a more protective helmet without all that padding. It's brutal. We're going to look like a bunch of clowns out there."
"I'm not worried about style or looking good out there," Mets third baseman David Wright said. "I'm worried about keeping my melon protected."
Just a few days after commenting, Wright was hit in the head by a pitch from San Francisco starter Matt Cain that sent him to the 15-day disabled list with post-concussion symptoms.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.