Grandal not just an MLB catcher, he's also helping to improve catcher's helmets

While reporting on catcher concussions, CBS Sports encountered a few stories meriting more than just a mention. This is one of those. You can read our full article about catcher concussions here.

Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal has terminated his contract with Nike, and has signed on with Force3 Pro Gear, according to the company. Grandal's deal is similar to the one possessed by Atlanta Braves backstop Tyler Flowers, meaning Grandal will become part owner of the company. That role affords Grandal more say -- an aspect that Flowers says he values.

"I wanted to be part of it for the long haul, not just a temporary, monetary gain," Flowers told CBS Sports. "I wanted to be in it for the long haul, to change kids' lives, to change parents', and let them feel comfortable with their kid catching -- especially with how huge the concussions are now in all the major sports. That was something that appealed to me right away."

Flowers and Grandal are two of eight or so major-league catchers who are wearing Force3's gear, including their signature product -- a mask called the Defender. Jason Klein, Force3's president, spent a decade umpiring in the minors. He began in 2007 trying to improve gear. The Defender, whose defining attribute is it spring-loaded system, was the result of five years of research and development. Independent testing results obtained by CBS Sports indicates the Defender does reduce the severity of impact better than other masks included in the sample.

All the same, Grandal will have to toe the same thin line that Flowers navigates -- the one between being a player and being a businessman. "I do own part of the company, but, at the same time, I'm a major league baseball player. I don't want to abuse my privileges," he said. "The Braves have purchased a number of the masks the last couple years for the minor league system. None of that even came through me -- I was actually unaware of it, they just went straight to Jason and the company to get the product.

"That just reiterated to me that I don't want to tie too many bridges together."

You can read our full article about catcher concussions here.  

CBS Sports Staff

R.J. Anderson joined CBS Sports in 2016. He previously wrote for Baseball Prospectus, where he contributed to five of the New York Times bestselling annuals. His work has also appeared in Newsweek and... Full Bio

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