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Donaldson adds face shield in return: 'Guys are throwing too hard'

John E. Sokolowski / USA TODAY Sports

Josh Donaldson finally returned to the Toronto Blue Jays' lineup Friday after missing over a month due to a calf strain, and there was a new look to his attire.

As Donaldson stepped up to the plate for his first at-bat since April 13, fans noticed the All-Star third baseman was sporting a face shield on his batting helmet, a choice he partially attributed to an unfortunate incident last August when he was struck by a pitch from Kansas City Royals reliever Kelvin Herrera.

"Well I did get hit in the face last year. That's pretty much why. Guys are throwing too hard," Donaldson told Sportsnet's Arden Zwelling. "It's part of the game, but I feel like there's a lot of balls that get lost up and in on me. So it's just one more thing that can protect my face.

"When you start dealing with head things - I've been hit in the head a couple times - it's not very fun to have to go through that. And if there's some protection out there, why not use it?"

Donaldson isn't the only star in recent memory to add the protective layer to their batting helmet.

After having his 2014 season cut short in September after he was hit in the face by a pitch - resulting in multiple facial fractures - Miami Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton returned the following season sporting a custom face guard down the left side of his helmet.

The addition didn't seem to affect Donaldson much in his return to the lineup against the Texas Rangers, as the third baseman connected on a double to deep center field in his first-inning at-bat before ending the night 1-for-4.

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