Pitchers and catchers for most MLB teams begin reporting to spring training starting next week. When players get to camp, they’ll be greeted with some new rule changes designed to protect and provide more safety.

In December, the Players Rules Committee voted in overwhelming favor to ban home plate collisions. The rule still must be approved by the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) and the World Umpires Association, but reports say that the approval should occur before the start of this season.

Home plate collisions have come under fire in recent years due to serious injuries, like Buster Posey’s broken leg and several concussions sustained by catchers.

Former catcher Brad Ausmus was hired this offseason as the Detroit Tigers’ new manager and he joined MLB Network Radio to voice his support for the new rules.

I think the rules are good in the sense that we need to protect the catchers from concussions. I remember one specific incident where there was a play at the plate in Houston and Scott Podsednik hit me, clean play, it was under the rules, and it knocked me out. I was unconscious for 10-15 seconds. Certainly this is the type of incident Major League Baseball, and from an organizational standpoint, you want to do to protect your asset behind home plate. Not only protect them because you want them to be able to play but you want to be able to protect these catchers’ long-term health.

Injuries to pitchers on the mound have also recently become more prevalent. In the past few years, Brandon McCarthy, JA Happ and Alex Cobb have all missed time or had their seasons end after getting hit in the head with a batted ball. A new protective padded cap that would absorb some of the impact of a ball up to 90 mph is now optional for pitchers beginning in spring training.

Cobb joined MLB Network Radio after the news and talked about why he would consider trying the cap in spring training.

I know there’s been a lot of critics on this particular model. They had to start somewhere. And the fact that they’re actually giving pitchers an option is a huge step in this entire process when guys can try it on themselves and give some feedback to the companies and then they refine it a little bit here and there. I’m just happy they’ve given us the option and given us the ability to protect us out there.

MLB Network Radio will have all the latest spring training news and notes when teams begin workouts. Tune to Sirius 209 and XM 89 for continuing coverage.

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