First, Johnny Cueto is fine. He was hit in the head by a line drive on the first pitch of Monday night's exhibition, but he stayed in the game for three more innings.
When the video is slowed down, it looks like the ball just glanced off the brim of his cap, slowing the ball down before it hit his forehead.
After the game, he went to the hospital to satisfy the team's concussion protocol, but I'll assume there wasn't an issue because the Giants let Cueto pitch three innings in a meaningless spring game. The risk had to be below negligible. Like, it had to have been more likely that the line drive gave him extra powers instead of a concussion. That's how little risk there had to have been after that first mound visit.
I would hope, at least.
A couple years ago, then-Padres pitcher Alex Torres decided to wear an oversized protective cap, and, bless him, he really did stand out because of it. I made a post with jokes about the hats, and then I realized how ghoulish and unnecessary those jokes were, and I stopped. The pitchers who wear those hats just want to stay alive, and I don't blame them.
The comebacker to Cueto is a reminder that pitching is the scariest thing in professional sports. I suppose that if given a chance between J.J. Watt buckling my spine on a run up the middle or doing my best to avoid a line drive from 60 feet away, I would think hard about my decision. But the entire sport of football is a compact in which you implicitly agree to get bludgeoned. When it comes to non-contact sports, there's nothing quite like the comebacker. Serious injuries happen on comebackers every year, regularly, like something you can check off a baseball bingo card. There's nothing the pitchers can do, and it's not like there's solace in knowing that it only happens to one percent of your peers in any given season.
It's the scariest damned thing in sports, and I can't believe that pitchers are all mentally strong enough to go back out there after it happens. If my laptop closed on my fingers right now and bruised me, I would literally quit my job to become a dairy farmer. I do not like physical trauma, and I avoid risk. I wear one of those Alex Torres hats in the shower, just because you can't be too sure.
And it stuns me that someone like Cueto can just bounce up and pitch the rest of the game because that's how he's wired. I guess what I'm really saying is that pitchers are all foolhardy, valiant creatures, and I respect the heck out of each and every one. Even Ma ... even Mat L ... I mean, it must be hard to pitch, that's all. Don't let your babies grow up to be pitchers.
Cueto should be fine. Although he didn't Instagram a video letting us know he would be fine. Does that mean he's not fine? Spring training is just the worst.