Norris still recovering from backswing to the head

Norris still recovering from backswing to the head

NEW YORK -- A's catcher Derek Norris is still on the mend from the latest backswing he took to his head Sunday, all the while brainstorming with his manager on ways to avoid what's becoming a scary trend.

Norris, who had to leave Sunday's game prematurely when he was drilled by a backswing for nearly the 10th time this season, was out of the lineup Tuesday in New York and wasn't a firm in-game option. Melvin wanted to see how he came out of pregame activities before declaring as much.

"He's gotten hit a number of times," said Melvin. "Our other guys have gotten hit some, too. It's not just him, but he's been back there the most, gotten hit the most. The last one was pretty significant in that it didn't get much helmet, it got more the side of the head. We were pretty concerned about that. If he feels like he needs to do something behind the plate to get a little more comfortable, we're all for that."

Norris was considering it over the weekend, but after watching video of his positioning, he isn't so sure a change would do him any good.

"I don't really think that would matter," he said. "Even the umpires are getting hit by some swings. Even if I was moved out of the catcher's box, I feel like I would still be hit somehow, some way. I don't really know what I'm going to do. I guess whenever I'm coming inside, just making sure I'm catching it and then maybe moving toward the right side to get out of the way. I think, ultimately, it's going to be up to the hitter to figure this out.

"I think guys are taking more aggressive swings and they're letting go of their top hand. Guys have done it for years, but they're coming unglued and leaving their whole body out in the backswing. I think guys are just trying to hit the ball 900 feet. They're trying to be really aggressive, they're gangster hacking out there. We're just on the receiving end of it."

Norris did speak with Red Sox catcher David Ross over the weekend about rhino linings found on truck beds, which Ross had inserted in his own helmet to offset the blow of backswings and foul balls. Ross missed much of last season with a concussion.

So little is in their control, though, which is why Melvin may be a proponent of invoking some sort of penalty on backswings -- perhaps an out on the batter even.

"I think, at some point in time," he said, "you have to look into it for safety issues. It's tough because guys go up and they're not thinking about their backswings. They're just taking their swings they've worked on. But when you're talking about someone getting hit in the head constantly, it becomes a safety issue."

Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Major Lee-ague, and follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.