Then-Athletic pitcher Brandon McCarthy reacts after being hit by a line drive in 2011.

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Bernstein: Steve Stone Warns Of Danger To Pitchers

"You're going to see a pitcher put into a coma and possibly killed," Stone says.

Dan Bernstein
June 18, 2019 - 2:46 pm

(670 The Score) Cubs outfielder Albert Almora Jr.'s line drive into the stands that injured a young girl in May was a recent reminder of the dangers of the batted baseball to fans seated beyond the protective netting at MLB parks, bringing a spotlight back to all the velocity in the game today and the associated concerns.

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It's one thing for fans to choose their seating options or teams to decide to expand the nets and another level of risk entirely for the man standing 55 feet away after releasing the ball. At least one former pitcher sees something awful looming if action isn't taken swiftly, noting a confluence of current factors.

"If we don't change something, what's going to happen is a catastrophic event on the mound," White Sox television analyst Steve Stone told said on the Bernstein & McKnight Show on 670 The Score on Tuesday.

"You're going to see a pitcher put into a coma and possibly killed in the next five years, and maybe sooner."

Scary as it may be to hear from the 1980 AL Cy Young winner, it's hard to dispute. Now that every vector on the diamond is measured objectively, we know how increased speeds, a baseball acting more like a golf ball and more efficient transferring of power to the ball from bats moving faster than ever through the zone are contributing to imperil pitchers. Stone cited Corey Kluber's broken arm suffered earlier this season and a terrifying near miss for J.A. Happ on a Jose Abreu liner to bolster his contention, without even needing to bring up the skull fracture and brain hemorrhage suffered by former White Sox pitcher Brandon McCarthy in 2012.

"With exit velocities being between 110 and 115 mph, a pitcher can barely see the ball," Stone said. "It's going to happen -- no ifs, ands or buts. There's going to be something terrible in the not-too-distant future."

Also contributing to pitchers' exposure is the way that emphasis on throwing as hard as their bodies allow has made it nearly impossible for them to recover into a defensive position after they follow through, with so much torque now driving the ball to the plate. It's now just another accepted trade-off for maximum-effort pitching.

"Guys are falling off the mound to the glove side -- left-handers to third base, right-handers to first base," Stone said. "And they can't defend themselves."

So short of the batting-practice L-screen at the base of the mound or mandatory helmets for pitchers, what can be done to prevent was Stone feels is inevitable?

"You might have to deaden the baseball," Stone said. "Because otherwise it's not going to end well."

Dan Bernstein is a co-host of 670 The Score’s Bernstein & McKnight Show in midday. You can follow him on Twitter @Dan_Bernstein.