SAN DIEGO -- When Alex Torres decided last Saturday to become the first pitcher to wear MLB's approved cap designed to protect players on the mound from line drives, the Padres' reliever suddenly received more media attention than he had in his entire career.
National media outlets lined up to talk to Torres about why he decided to pioneer the cap that could save a pitcher's life one day, including Diane Sawyer of ABC News. The social media landscape, meanwhile, seemed to primarily focus on the oversized cap's look. And Twitter users weren't the only ones to poke fun at Torres.
"Teammates, they just joke around that I look like Super Mario," Torres said.
Even D-backs pitcher Brandon McCarthy, who was struck by a liner in 2012 that caused internal bleeding in his brain, said in January that he wouldn't wear the cap this season. Among McCarthy's criticisms were the cap "doesn't pass the eye test," is too hot and doesn't fit snugly on his head.
But Torres doesn't share the same critiques, believing that when pitchers are in the middle of a game, they won't notice the seven extra ounces of weight the padding adds to a traditional cap.
"I think [pitchers] just think about how they're gonna look," Torres said. "Right now it looks weird because you're not used to it."
He also says he'll continue to don the padded cap for the rest of his future outings -- and that soon, other MLB players will be following his lead. If not this season, perhaps in 2015.
"In the future, you're going to see a lot more pitchers in the big leagues wearing it," Torres said. "I don't want to wait for someone to hit a line drive right to my head before I start wearing it. I don't want to lose two or three months because I got a concussion. Why not wear it if I have it right now?"
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. Will Laws is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less