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MLB approves protective caps for pitchers

Major League Baseball announced that it has approved the use of padded caps to protect pitchers from hard-hit balls.

All 30 teams were informed Tuesday morning of the decision after consulting with the league’s players union. Use of the caps is optional.

“We’re excited to have a product that meets our safety criteria,” Dan Halem, MLB executive vice president for labor relations, told ESPN’s Outside the Lines. “MLB is committed to working with manufacturers to develop products that offer maximum protection to our players, and we’re not stopping at all.”

More than a year ago, then-Oakland A’s pitcher Brandon McCarthy was struck in the head by a line drive and suffered life-threatening brain injuries.

However, McCarthy, now with the Arizona Diamondbacks, said he tested out the new protective cap while throwing off a mound, playing catch and running, but does not like it.

“I won’t wear it in its current form,” he told

In the last six seasons, 12 pitchers have been hit in the head by line drives, including five pitchers during a five-month stretch in 2012 and 2013. One of the pitchers, Toronto Blue Jays left-hander J.A. Happ, suffered a fractured skull after he was struck in the left ear last May 7. He also sprained knee ligaments after falling from the hit.

n The Cincinnati Reds avoided salary arbitration with All-Star closer Aroldis Chapman by agreeing to a one-year, $5 million contract, according to multiple reports.

Chapman requested $5.4 million and the club offered $4.6 million in filing for arbitration but the two sides came to an agreement.

Chapman, a left-hander, went 4-5 with a 2.54 ERA with 38 saves in 68 appearances last year. He struck out 112 batters in 63 2/3 innings.

n The Florida state attorney’s office dropped a reckless driving charge against Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig, according to the News-Press of Southwest Florida.

However, Puig still receives a speeding ticket for driving 110 mph in 70 mph zone.

Puig was clocked at 110 mph on Florida’s Alligator Alley section of I-75 on Dec. 28 while driving his 2013 Mercedes with his mother in the car. The posted speed limit is 70 mph. He was released by police several hours after his arrest.

n The Colorado Rockies agreed to a minor-league contract with infielder Paul Janish. The agreement includes a spring training invitation.

Janish, 31, spent the last two seasons with the Atlanta Braves. He also played four seasons with the Cincinnati Reds.

n The broken bat that Roger Clemens threw at Mike Piazza during Game 2 of the 2000 World Series is up for auction.

Clemens, then of the New York Yankees, hit former New York Met Mike Piazza in the head during the regular season and a feud developed by the World Series.

When Piazza’s bat broke after hitting a Clemens pitch, the barrel sailed at Clemens. As Piazza ran up the first-base line, Clemens picked up the broken barrel and threw it toward Piazza. At the time, Clemens claimed he initially thought the piece of the bat was the ball and threw it toward the dugout before realizing his mistake.

The barrel of that bat is up for auction at Heritage Auctions. It includes a certificate of authenticity. It was listed at $4,000. Internet bidding ends Feb. 22.