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Baseball notebook: MLB aims to protect pitchers

| Saturday, Oct. 27, 2012, 8:00 p.m.
The Tigers' Doug Fister is examined after being hit by a ball off the bat of the Giants' Gregor Blanco during the second inning of Game 2 of the World Series on Thursday, Oct. 25, 2012, in San Francisco. (AP)

Major League Baseball is looking at ways to protect pitchers from being injured by batted balls such as the one that struck Doug Fister in the head, and the league said liners are a possibility in the minors next year.

The safety issue is on a “fast track,” MLB senior vice president Dan Halem said Friday night. “Hopefully, we can come up with something. We're making progress.”

MLB medical director Dr. Gary Green has been talking to companies about protective headgear for pitchers, Halem said. A report is on the agenda at baseball's winter meetings in December. A cap liner with Kevlar, the high-impact material used by military, law enforcement and NFL players for body armor, is under consideration.

Halem said MLB was exploring options when Oakland pitcher Brandon McCarthy was hit in the head by a line drive last month, causing a skull fracture and brain contusion.

“After that, it kind of pushed up our timetable,” Halem said. “We decided to fast-track it.”

Fister was the latest pitcher to get hit. Gregor Blanco's second-inning shot caught Fister on the right side of the head and flew about 150 feet, the ball traveling so far that center fielder Austin Jackson picked it up on one hop.

Fister remained in the game Thursday and worked into the seventh inning of a 2-0 loss to the San Francisco Giants. The Tigers said a team trainer pronounced Fister fine Friday.

BBWAA gets 1st female leader

Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle became the first woman to head the Baseball Writers' Association of America in the organization's century-plus history.

Slusser was elected Saturday at the BBWAA's World Series meeting. LaVelle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune was elected vice president, putting him in line to become the first black to head the group next year.

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