After being hit in the face by a pitch and suffering devastating facial injuries last September, Giancarlo Stanton is taking necessary precautions this season. Per Joe Frisaro of MLB.com, Stanton will wear a protective face guard in Spring Training, which begins for Marlins position players on February 24 in Jupiter, FL.
"Physically and mentally, Giancarlo Stanton is ready to start Spring Training later this month with no restrictions. But to make sure there is no hesitation, Miami’s two-time All-Star right fielder will wear a protective guard on his helmet."
The likelihood of being struck in the face again is minuscule, but it’s a good idea for Stanton to protect himself. He is a rather large investment for the team; as you may recall, he signed a 13-year, $325 million contract this offseason.
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The incident in Milwaukee on September 11 was one of those freak occurrences, but why take any chances on something like that happening again? The Marlins and Stanton alike know that he anchors this team, and any chances of making the postseason hinge on the 25 year-old being on the field, healthy and producing at a high level.
Stanton missed the last few weeks of the 2014 season, and any chance the Marlins had of claiming a Wild Card berth fell by the wayside.
He won’ bet the only player to resort to wearing unconventional face guards. St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Jason Heyward has worn a protective shield attached to the right side of his batting helmet since having his jaw broken by a pitch in 2013.
For years the discussion about making face protectors mandatory for both batters and fielders has been a hot topic around baseball. Following Stanton’s injury, ESPN’s Buster Olney suggested that facial protection become mandatory in MLB.
It sounds like Stanton’s headgear will be of the half-cage variety, possibly in the vein of what is worn in softball:
"“There’s no concerns on our part,” Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill said. “We’ve worked closely with Giancarlo and the helmet manufacturer. He will wear a half-cage to protect the injured area. He’s worked out with it.”"
I’m sure the manufacturer has produced a helmet that won’t be too imposing for Stanton’s view of the baseball. It wouldn’t benefit Stanton or the Marlins to have his pitch recognition compromised, but safety is obviously the main concern. Knowing Giancarlo Stanton, he will wear whatever protective gear with his signature swag, and will be the same dangerous slugger he’s always been.
Stanton is expected to be 100% healthy and ready for Spring Training later this month.