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Tampa Bay Rays southpaw Rich Hill says union dropped ball on new rules

Jun 12, 2021; St. Petersburg, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Rich Hill (14) throws a pitch during the third inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 12, 2021; St. Petersburg, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Rich Hill (14) throws a pitch during the third inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Major League Baseball received a flurry of mixed reactions to its memo detailing stricter enforcement of its rules banning pitchers from using foreign substances on baseballs.

While players have debated the virtues and side effects of the league’s new regulations, Tampa Bay Rays left-hander Rich Hill puts the blame on the MLB Players Association.

“I think this falls on the P.A., the players association,” Hill told reporters Wednesday. “This is where they dropped the ball. I think that this is where something should have been done. The players association had the opportunity to work with MLB, and MLB used their strong hand to put it on the players.

“And that’s unfortunate that this is what happened. I feel like a rule change in the middle of the season is very difficult for everybody across the league.”

Hill wished the union more actively got involved with the league on the topic, “settled this and handled it like professionals.”

Hill spoke one day after his teammate, right-hander Tyler Glasnow, blamed the heavier enforcement — which goes into effect Monday — for injuries he sustained this month in his pitching elbow. Glasnow was diagnosed with a partial ulnar collateral ligament tear and a flexor strain.

“I switched my fastball grip and my curveball grip,” Glasnow said Tuesday. “I had to put my fastball deeper into my hand and grip it way harder. Instead of holding my curveball at the tip of my fingers, I had to dig it deeper into my hand. I’m choking the (heck) out of all my pitches.”

Hill, 41, has pitched in the majors since 2005 — 17 seasons with 10 different teams. It’s his first season in Tampa Bay.

As other players have reportedly complained, Hill said he does not want a combination of sunscreen and rosin, widely used by pitchers, to be punished the same as Spider Tack, an especially stick substance that has come under scrutiny.

“My argument is that, when it’s a hundred degrees out and humid, we get a rosin bag. When it’s 30 degrees out and freezing cold, we get a rosin bag,” Hill said. “I think it’s also been pretty widely said throughout baseball, hitters and pitchers alike, combined, a (feeling) that the rosin bag is not enough.”

He added, “Part of this wants me to think that it’s a distraction to put hitters and pitchers against each other, which, again, isn’t going to do anything to help grow the game.”

MLB’s memo promises 10-day suspensions with pay for any player caught applying any foreign substance to the ball.

–Field Level Media