Gerrit Cole admits frustration due to combative chatter over pitching injury

Yankees ace Gerrit Cole watches solar eclipse at Yankee Stadium on April 8, 2024.
Sara Molnick
Tuesday April 9, 2024

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Monday marked a significant milestone in the recovery journey of Gerrit Cole as he threw a baseball for the first time in four weeks. This initial session saw the Yankees ace fire 25 throws from 60 feet, with an impressive 22 finding their intended target. However, he is unhappy over the discourse on pitching injuries.

“I’m just frustrated it’s a combative issue,” the Yankees ace 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.”

Gerrit Cole’s injury is part of a concerning trend. Several prominent pitchers have been sidelined with serious arm injuries since spring training began in February. This surge in injuries has ignited a debate between Major League Baseball (MLB) and the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA).

On Saturday, MLBPA executive director Tony Clark issued a statement suggesting the newly implemented pitch clock is contributing to the rise in elbow injuries. MLB countered with its own statement, rejecting this claim and citing historical data that demonstrates a prevalence of pitcher injuries even before the pitch clock’s introduction.

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The reigning American League Cy Young Award winner, Gerrit Cole, expressed his frustration over the increasing number of injuries and the ensuing debate during a 20-minute interview on Monday. He described feeling “disheartened” by the adversarial nature of the discourse that has turned to be a confrontational issue lacking adequate collaborative effort to find a solution.

Gerrit Cole’s frustration highlights the need for a more unified and cooperative approach between the players and the league to effectively address the rising injury concerns plaguing pitchers.

Gerrit Cole worried over surge in pitching injuries

Gerrit Cole’s return to throwing, while positive news for the Yankees, is overshadowed by the rising tide of arm injuries plaguing Major League Baseball.

Just steps away from Gerrit Cole’s throwing session on Monday was teammate Jonathan Loaisiga, who received a devastating diagnosis of a torn ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) in his elbow. Loaisiga faces season-ending surgery scheduled for next weekend.  

The issue extends beyond the Bronx. The Miami Marlins, Gerrit Cole’s opponent on Monday, stand as a stark example. They recently announced that prized young pitcher Eury Perez, 21, will undergo Tommy John surgery. This adds him to a growing list of injured Marlins starters, including Sandy Alcantara (elbow), Edward Cabrera (shoulder), and Braxton Garrett (shoulder).

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The trend isn’t limited to Miami. Guardians ace Shane Bieber was sidelined with the same UCL tear requiring Tommy John surgery, and an MRI revealed structural damage in Braves ace Spencer Strider’s elbow over the weekend. These two join a growing fraternity of pitchers sidelined by significant arm injuries, including Shohei Ohtani, Jacob deGrom, Robbie Ray, Shane McClanahan, Walker Buehler, Lucas Giolito, and Dustin May.

With the cause of the injuries unclear, Gerrit Cole admitted to not having a definitive solution. However, he took issue with MLB’s stance that the newly implemented pitch clock wasn’t a contributing factor. He believes dismissing it after just one season’s use is “shortsighted.”

Gerrit Cole’s frustration highlights the need for a more cooperative approach. With a growing number of pitchers succumbing to arm injuries, both MLB and the MLBPA must work together to identify potential causes and implement preventative measures. Only then can they ensure the health of their players and the long-term sustainability of the sport.

Gerrit Cole calls for prioritizing pitcher’s health over pitch clock

While Gerrit Cole’s rehab progress offers a glimmer of hope for the Yankees, his return is overshadowed by the larger issue of rampant arm injuries plaguing Major League Baseball. But the ace himself weighed in on the ongoing debate surrounding the pitch clock, acknowledging its potential long-term effects.

Gerrit Cole suggests that several years might be needed to fully comprehend the pitch clock’s impact on pitchers. He expressed concern about prematurely dismissing the concept as a non-factor, emphasizing that prioritizing player health is paramount. After all, healthy players are essential to the baseball industry and the overall quality of the game.

Drawing on his own experiences, the 33-year-old Yankees ace recalled “a couple of situations” from last season where he felt fatigued, attributing them in part to the pitch clock’s constraints. Despite successfully navigating those situations, Gerrit Cole’s experiences raise a valid point. Yankees teammate Clarke Schmidt echoed this sentiment, suggesting that the pitch clock could indeed influence pitchers, particularly in high-pressure situations. He highlighted how the clock’s time constraints might exacerbate pressure during crucial innings with runners on base.

Gerrit Cole went on to propose that the pitch clock might be just one piece of a larger puzzle. He pointed out other potential contributing factors like the shortened spring pieces of training in 2020 and 2022, the crackdown on foreign substances, and the industry-wide emphasis on throwing harder and generating more spin on the ball.

According to Gerrit Cole, it would be irresponsible for either MLB or the MLBPA to definitively dismiss the potential impact of the pitch clock, or any other factor, on pitcher health. He argued that such pronouncements hinder productive discussions and prevent a comprehensive approach to addressing the injury crisis.

By acknowledging the potential influence of various factors, including the pitch clock, MLB and the MLBPA can work together to implement preventative measures and ensure the well-being of their athletes.

This catch session, the first of three planned for the week, serves as a crucial checkpoint in Gerrit Cole’s rehabilitation from nerve inflammation in his right elbow. While the injury is expected to keep him sidelined until at least late May, his prognosis appears more optimistic compared to some of his fellow pitchers across the league.

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