Wolters feeling better, exploring gear solutions

Wolters feeling better, exploring gear solutions

DENVER -- The foggy eyes of a couple days ago are clearer, and the smile has returned for Rockies catcher Tony Wolters, who was allowed to ride the exercise bike Sunday -- his first exercise since suffering a concussion Wednesday -- and felt good Monday.

"It's a day-to-day thing; if I feel anything, I have to tell them, so we're being precautionary and I'm glad it's a progression -- I just want to be safe," Wolters, currently on the 7-day concussion disabled list, said on his way to concussion tests that occur most every day while he's under care.

"I felt better yesterday, and when I woke up today, I felt refreshed and awake. So I'm giving it time. If I don't give it time, it's going to come back. I'm feeling better every day. It's a good process."

Wolters, who was hitting .346 before he was hit in the helmet and mask with the bat of the Padres' Hector Sanchez, suffered a concussion last season. Now he is looking into equipment changes to reduce the risk.

Wolters wears the old-fashioned mask-helmet (or "scully") setup, rather than the hockey-goalie-style mask that many players use. He experimented with the hockey-style mask in Spring Training, but decided against it. The hockey mask offers ear protection and doesn't move as much, but some catchers claim the force is more blunt.

He's also looking at using a mouth guard. It is believed that football and hockey players reduce the risk by wearing a mouth guard, which reduces the clashing of teeth and the force of the lower jaw into the upper jaw.

"I was talking to people, trying to figure out things I can do to help, and I was thinking mouth guard -- maybe," Wolters said. "There may be one that is supposed to put you in a relaxed state.

"And I've got some other helmets coming in today, and I'll look at those. Anything that's going to help. I strongly advise all the catchers to look into everything."

For young catchers, the National Federation of State High School Associations' 2017 Rule Book says "commercially manufactured catcher's head, face and throat protection may be a onepiece or multi-piece design." However, the rule also says: "Any helmet or helmet and mask combination shall have full ear protection (dual ear flaps). A throat protector, which is either a part of or attached to the catcher's mask, is mandatory."

There is no timetable on Wolters' return.

Worth noting

• Rockies right-hander Jon Gray, who suffered a navicular stress fracture of his left foot on April 13, was pleased with the results of a follow-up exam Monday.

"It seems headed in the right direction -- the bones haven't pulled apart and everything is right where it should be," he said.

Gray said he will have another checkup Thursday, and it's possible he can take off the walking boot after that. There is no timetable on his return.

• The Rockies' No. 8 prospect, Ryan McMahon, a left-handed hitter who has played first base, second base and third base this season, earned Double-A Eastern League Player of the Month honors for April at Hartford by leading the league in hits (30), total bases (54) and RBIs (20), and tied for the lead in triples (two).

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.