(CBS) Major League Baseball on Tuesday approved the use of padded caps for pitchers to protect them from hard hit balls back to the mound, according to multiple reports.

Wearing the caps will be optional. They are about a half-inch thicker in the front and about an inch thicker on the sides than normal caps, according to the Sports Xchange.

The safety of pitchers has come under scrutiny in recent years after a handful of hurlers have been hit in the head by line drives. In September 2012, then-Oakland Athletics pitcher Brandon McCarthy suffered life-threatening injuries after being hit in the head by a liner.