FORT MYERS, FLA. - Justin Morneau last season was one of about 200 players who wore the Rawlings S100 Pro Comp helmet, which is designed to protect the head on pitches up to 100 miles an hour.
This season, every player will have to wear it, Major League Baseball announced Wednesday, beginning Saturday with the start of exhibition season. The provision is included in the current collective bargaining agreement. The S100 is barely larger than the old model and just 1 ounce heavier but is 300 percent stiffer.
The old helmets provided protection for baseballs thrown up to 68 miles an hour. The new S100 is a major upgrade, and Morneau is all for it.
"It's big, but it's for safety and it's good," Morneau said. "Guys might complain at first. Ninety-nine percent of players in the big leagues won't have to worry about it, but for people who have been hit or if there's a chance it can save them, they will be thankful for it.
"All the tests they've done say there is a huge difference.''
Morneau has had at least two concussions during this Twins career, when he was hit in the head by a Ron Villone pitch in 2005 and when he was kneed in the head while sliding into second base in 2010.
LA VELLE E. NEAL III