SAN DIEGO -- Padres reliever Alex Torres became the first pitcher to wear the protective cap approved for pitchers' use by MLB in a regular-season game while pitching in the eighth inning of Saturday's contest against the Dodgers.
The league approved the product in January, nearly a year and a half after pitcher Brandon McCarthy was struck in the head by a line drive and suffered life-threatening brain injuries while on the mound for the Oakland A's. McCarthy has since recovered and is now pitching for Arizona.
Torres was donning the cap in the Padres' clubhouse Saturday afternoon, and received some playful banter as a result due to the hat's large size. He says he doesn't care about how it looks, though, after watching Alex Cobb get hit in the head by a line drive last year while both were with the Tampa Bay Rays.
"It could save our lives, if someone hits a ball to your head," Torres said. "I get it for free, so I'm just gonna use it to see how it feels."
Torres ordered the cap about a month ago and started wearing it sporadically while playing catch over the past week.
And the verdict?
"The difference between how this hat and the regular hat feels isn't much," Torres said. "I tried it before using it in the game, playing catch. It doesn't feel really bad. It doesn't feel like how it looks on my head."
Goebbert thrilled to get first Major League start
SAN DIEGO -- Jake Goebbert made his first start in the Major Leagues on Saturday after making his first plate appearance Friday night, when he delivered a pinch-hit RBI single in front of his parents, wife and brother to help the Padres claim a 6-5 win.
"I didn't feel my legs for the first couple of pitches," Goebbert said before Saturday's game. "It was nice to get an at-bat before I started so I could get my feet wet a little bit."
He had even more extended family members in San Diego for his first start. Padres manager Bud Black penciled him in sixth in the lineup and playing left field.
"I'm excited, ready to take the next step," Goebbert said. "I'm really looking forward to it, glad my family will still be here to share it with me."
Goebbert was called up as a result of first baseman Yonder Alonso being placed on the disabled list, and is expected to see some time there as well as the outfield. Though he has primarily played outfield in the Minors, the Padres have put him at first base two or three times a week for Triple-A El Paso since they acquired him in a trade with Oakland last month, and Goebbert mainly played there during college at Northwestern.
The lefty has heated up in June after being acquired by San Diego on May 15, sporting a slash line of .321/.446/.528 after batting just .224 in May.
"I found my comfort zone," Goebbert said. "Just finding your niche in a team makes for a little bit of an adjustment."
Goebbert went 1-for-4 Saturday with a single and two strikeouts.
Smith proving to be a Dodger killer this season
SAN DIEGO -- Seth Smith has been San Diego's best offensive player all season long. But he seemingly finds another level against the rival Dodgers, further endearing himself to Padres fans who want nothing more than to "Beat LA."
Smith first provided a hint of what was to come this season in his Padres debut March 30, knocking a pinch-hit home run in San Diego's Opening Day 3-1 victory over Los Angeles.
He's gone on to lead the team in nearly every offensive category, though before Friday night was just hitting .188 (9-for-48) in June. It turned out facing the Dodgers was the perfect elixir to his summer struggles.
The lefty went 3-for-3 with two solo shots and a double in the series opener, collecting the most total bases (10) by a Padre in one game in 2014.
"I've been working on my swing and came in and did some early work," said Smith, who said the fix had more to do with timing than anything too technical. "It's fun when you put in the work and then see the results."
In 12 plate appearances against Los Angeles this season, Smith is 6-for-10 with four home runs -- half of his season total -- a double and two walks.
"I don't think there's any difference. Seth has been swinging pretty good all year long," said Padres manager Bud Black. "In certain parks, [hitters] see the ball better for whatever reason. And Seth sees the ball here in San Diego better than a lot of players."
Padres fans will hope Smith will continue to see the ball well when it's being served up by a Dodgers pitcher. If San Diego wins again on Saturday or Sunday, it'll be their first home series win over Los Angeles since 2010.
Headley still day to day with herniated disc
SAN DIEGO -- Chase Headley revealed on Saturday that he'd been dealing with back and leg pain caused by a herniated disc for about a month. He was scratched from the lineup on Friday to receive an epidural, and was not available Saturday, either.
"Yesterday was probably the worst I've been in quite a while," Headley said. "I wouldn't have [sat out] if I could have gone out and tried to play yesterday. I was at the point where I don't think I would have been helping us. That's where the decision came in."
Headley's injury is the latest in a series of setbacks for Padres infielders, after first baseman Yonder Alonso (right wrist tendinitis) and second baseman Jedd Gyorko (plantar fasciitis, left foot) recently hit the disabled list.
"Obviously it's frustrating when things are stacking on top of each other," Headley said. "From my understanding, it probably was one action that actually caused the rupture. [But] I couldn't tell you when it was."
He expressed optimism that he could return to the lineup within the next few days, but admitted there's no concrete timetable for treatment.
"I think we're gonna avoid [the disabled list] with Chase," said Padres manager Bud Black. "We think this'll be just a two- or three-day situation. That's what our doctors told us, and we're still thinking along those lines."
The Padres will shuffle between Alexi Amarista and Jace Peterson at second and third base until Headley returns, with catchers Yasmani Grandal and Rene Rivera serving as emergency third basemen.
Will Laws is an associated reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.