MLB notes: Pitchers' helmets will be optional in 2014

Pitcher Alex Cobb of the Rays is taken off the field by medical personel after he was hit in the...

Pitcher Alex Cobb of the Rays is taken off the field by medical personel after he was hit in the head by a line drive during a game against the Royals at Tropicana Field on June 15, 2013. (J. Meric/Getty Images/AFP)

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:54 PM ET

Could we see pitchers wear protective head gear as early as next summer?

Speaking to Fox Sports Wednesday, Arizona Diamondbacks hurler Brandon McCarthy said the league is moving towards legislation that would allow non-mandatory head gear.

"They're coming," McCarthy said. "From everything I know (the head gear will) be available this year. I don't believe they're going to be mandatory. Actually, I'm almost certain they won't be mandatory."

A spokesperson for Major League Baseball told the TV station that "one product that has passed the testing standards should be available to players for next season."

The league is in talks with the players' association about the optional piece of equipment, while continuing to evaluate several products, the spokesperson added.

McCarthy is particularly interested in the matter because he took a line drive to the head in 2012 when he was pitching for the Oakland Athletics. He suffered a skull fracture.

As for the potential look of the head gear, McCarthy didn't exactly give a rave review. "It looks ridiculous and we get so used to the way things look," he said.

DODGERS TOPS IN ATTENDANCE

Though the Los Angeles Dodgers fell just one step shy of the World Series last season, they proved to be the kingpins when it came to drawing huge crowds and ruling the roost on social media.

According to figures released by MLB, Dodger Stadium was the most visited ballpark with the iconic Los Angeles franchise attracting a total of 3,743,527 fans during its 2013 campaign.

The scenic stadium at Chavez Ravine, the third oldest in baseball, was the most "checked-in" sports venue in the U.S. in 2013 while it ranked fourth on the list of most checked-in locations overall, Facebook reported.

The team led the majors in total growth last season on Facebook, Tumblr and Instagram, according to data provided by Major League Baseball Advanced Media.

AXFORD TO INDIANS OFFICIAL

The Cleveland Indians announced Thursday the club has signed Canadian pitcher John Axford to a one-year, $4.5-million contract.

The Simcoe, Ont., native split the 2013 season between the Milwaukee Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals, going a combined 7-7 with a 4.02 ERA in 75 relief appearances.

The 30-year-old was the Brewers closer from 2010-12, leading the National League with 46 saves in 2011. Axford owns a career major league record of 22-19 with a 3.29 ERA and 106 saves in 281 relief appearances.

BRIEFLY

The Cincinnati Reds have signed pitcher Chien-Ming Wang to a minor-league contract. Wang started six games with the Toronto Blue Jays last season, going 1-2 with a 7.67 earned-run average ... The Baltimore Orioles signed oufielder Xavier Paul to a minor league contract, according to the Baltimore Sun. Paul played 97 games for the Reds last year, driving in 32 with a .244 batting average.


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