Gerrit Cole says MLB, union bickering over pitch clock sounds like ‘divorced parents’ – Metro US

Gerrit Cole says MLB, union bickering over pitch clock sounds like ‘divorced parents’

NEW YORK (AP) — New York Yankees pitcher Gerrit Cole faulted Major League Baseball and the players’ association for bickering over the pitch clock last weekend, comparing their behavior to divorced parents.

The reigning AL Cy Young Award winner and former member of the union’s eight-man executive subcommittee spoke about the union’s statement Saturday that questioned whether the clock caused pitcher injuries and MLB’s response dismissing the concerns. Cole has been sidelined since spring training by right elbow inflammation.

“I’m just frustrated it’s a combative issue,” he said. “It’s like, OK, we have divorced parents and the child’s misbehaving and we can’t get on the same page to get the child to behave, not that the players are misbehaving, but we have an issue here and we need to get on the same page to at least try and fix it.”

Cole spoke for about 20 minutes after throwing for the first time since he was diagnosed with the elbow injury. The 33-year-old right-hander is on the 60-day injured list and hopes to return in June. After addressing reporters, he went to the dugout to watch the solar eclipse.

Players’ association head Tony Clark in a statement Saturday claimed a shorter pitch clock — which MLB instituted despite player opposition — has contributed to a series of pitcher injuries. Cleveland’s Shane Bieber, Atlanta’s Spencer Strider, the New York Yankees’ Jonathan Loáisiga, Miami’s Eury Pérez and Oakland’s Trevor Gott are among the pitchers recently diagnosed with elbow injuries.

MLB said the union’s claim “ignores the empirical evidence and much more significant long-term trend, over multiple decades, of velocity and spin increases that are highly correlated with arm injuries.”

The league said it is undergoing a research study into causes of increased injuries. It cited an unpublished analysis by Johns Hopkins that “found no evidence to support that the introduction of the pitch clock has increased injuries” and “no evidence that pitchers who worked quickly … or sped up their pace were more likely to sustain an injury than those who did not.”

Cole said players feel “caught in the middle” of the squabble and maintained Manfred and MLB should not dismiss the players’ concerns. He said he felt he was gassed early in some starts last year because of the clock and would like MLB to show “empathy.”

“Rob cares about the players. He’s supposed to care about players, he’s supposed to really deeply care about them, like that is his job,” Cole said. “I don’t know if he wrote that statement, I don’t know who wrote that statement, but did anyone put a name on it? At least Tony did.”

Cole said MLB and the union need to listen to and speak with each other.

“It’s shortsighted,” he said. “We are going to really understand the effects of what the pitch clock is maybe five years down the road, but to dismiss it out of hand I didn’t think that was helpful to the situation. I think the players are obviously the most important aspect of this industry and this product and the care of the players should be of utmost importance to both sides. MLB did nothing illegal by pushing the pitch clock. They have unilateral rights to create whatever rule they wanted to.

“I know it’s not black and white like both of the statements,” Cole added. He said players felt “our opinion has not been considered” and termed Clark’s remarks “a combative statement” that was “narrow” and “doesn’t include all the other factors that may have also contributed to it, as well.”

MLB instituted a pitch clock for the 2023 season set at 15 seconds with nobody on and 20 seconds when there was a baserunner. The average time of a nine-inning game dropped to 2 hours, 40 minutes, a 24-minute decrease to its shortest since 1985. The 11-man competition committee decided in December to cut the clock to 18 seconds with baserunners, a change that was opposed by the four players on the body.

Cole said the sport has evolved because of technology in ways that are damaging to pitchers’ health.

“We have the ability to teach more break and teach new pitches and we can do it within one month,” he said. “But what kind of effect does that have on a pitcher going forward, like in terms of one year out, two years out, three years out? We don’t really know. What we do know is when guys were more healthy, we weren’t able to go to a pitching lab and concoct a new pitch and then use that at a 35% clip for the next six months and only have practiced it two months before we roll it out.”

AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB