Shortly after Major League Baseball announced stricter enforcement on foreign substance use, including 10-game suspensions for violators, some pitchers had strong opinions — and a serious gripe.
Tampa Bay Rays starter Tyler Glasnow said Tuesday he suffered a small UCL tear in his throwing elbow, which often requires a pitcher to undergo elbow reconstruction surgery. Glasnow will try to avoid that path. But he thinks he knows how the injury occurred: He stopped using a combination of sunscreen and rosin on the ball to prepare for MLB’s more stringent rules.
When Glasnow faced the Washington Nationals last week, he went “cold turkey” on the use of foreign substances. He still struck out 11 batters. But the next morning, Glasnow said he was sore in a way he hadn’t ever been before, a result of a change in the grip on his pitches.
“I felt completely different,” Glasnow said. “I switched my fastball grip and my curveball grip. I’ve thrown it the same way for however many years I’ve played baseball. I had to put my fastball deeper into my hand and grip it way harder, and instead of holding my curveball at the tip of my fingers, I had to dig it deeper into my hand.”
Glasnow said he used to hold the ball as if it were an egg — loosely — but now needs to grip the ball much harder, stressing muscles he doesn’t usually stress.
That led to Monday night’s start against the White Sox in Chicago. He felt something “pop” in his arm, and he exited after four innings. Before his injury occurred, he downplayed the idea that eliminating the grip agents that pitchers use could increase injuries.
“Before that start, I remember when all this stuff came out I was talking to people and talking to doctors and they were like … maybe that will add to injuries,” Glasnow said. “And in my mind, I was, like, ‘That sounds dumb. That sounds like an excuse a player would use to make sure he can use sticky stuff.’”
He has a different viewpoint now. He shifted the way he pitches midway through a season, and he pointed to that change as a reason for his injury.
“Me throwing 100 [mph] and being 6‘7” is why I got hurt, but that contributed,” Glasnow said. “So I’m just frustrated that they don’t understand how hard it is to pitch, one, and to tell us to do something completely different in the middle of a season is insane.
“I just don’t — there has to be some give-and-take here,” he said. “You can’t just take away everything and not add something. Pitchers need to be able to have some sort of control or some sort of grip on the ball. And I just don’t want this to happen to somebody else, and I don’t want a fastball to sail away and hit somebody in the face, as it already has.”
Glasnow wasn’t alone in his criticism of the new enforcement measures. Los Angeles Dodgers starter Trevor Bauer, at the forefront of the spin rate arguments for years, responded to Glasnow’s stance by calling the regulations a knee-jerk reaction and saying that injuries are only one of the issues to arise from the rulings.
In a video uploaded to Twitter, Bauer asked MLB a question: Was the combination of rosin and sweat legal? He combined rosin — which is still allowed — with sweat, and he stuck the ball to his hand.
“No other substance was used. No sunscreen. No pine tar. No firm grip. No spider tack. Just sweat and rosin,” Bauer tweeted in a thread. “So, question! As you can hear and see, the ball is quite sticky. But I used legal substances and nothing else. Should I be suspended for 10 games if I were to use this in a game?”
In a Twitter poll attached, 79.4% of respondents said Bauer shouldn’t be suspended for using rosin and sweat.