Rich Hill realizes it’s a sticky situation.
Still, the veteran Tampa Bay Rays pitcher, who will start the opener of a four-game series in Seattle on Thursday, had a unique take when asked about Major League Baseball’s new ban on grip-enhancing substances.
While baseball is being criticized for instituting the rule in the middle of the season, Hill said there’s plenty of blame to go around.
“I think this falls on the P.A., the players association; this is where they dropped the ball,” the left-hander said Wednesday in Chicago. “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.”
MLB announced that, starting Monday, pitchers will be ejected and suspended for 10 games with pay for using illegal foreign substances to doctor balls. Hill’s teammate, Tyler Glasnow, attributed his partially torn elbow ligament to adapting to the new rules.
Hill said, “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. 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.”
It’s been a tough week for the Rays, who not only lost ace Glasnow for an extended period but also dropped two of three games against the host White Sox — including an 8-7 defeat in 10 innings Wednesday afternoon — to fall a half-game behind Chicago and the San Francisco Giants in the race for baseball’s best record. It was the first time Tampa Bay lost a series in more than a month.
The Rays rallied from a five-run deficit to force extra innings Wednesday.
“I’m encouraged and, overall, impressed with the way the guys were able to get back into the game and ultimately tie it,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said.
Tampa Bay will attempt to bounce back behind Hill (5-2, 3.38 ERA). The 41-year-old lefty had won back-to-back starts before allowing four runs in 4 2/3 innings during a no-decision against the Baltimore Orioles on Saturday.
In 12 career appearances against the Mariners, including five starts, Hill is 4-0 with a 2.06 ERA.
The Mariners, who had a three-game winning streak snapped with a 7-2 loss Wednesday night against the visiting Minnesota Twins, are set to start Justin Dunn (1-3, 3.91 ERA). The right-hander will be facing the Rays for the first time.
Dunn, 25, allowed no more than two runs in his five May starts. He missed 12 days due to an inflamed right shoulder, then returned to allow five runs on nine hits in three innings Friday during a 7-0 loss at Cleveland.
Mariners manager Scott Servais said he met with his pitching staff Tuesday to address the new rules.
“I do think it’s probably a pivotal time in Major League Baseball to address the issue,” Servais said. “I think you can talk about what’s going on in our game as far as offense, and it’s spiraling downward. It’s really hard to hit.
“The pitching has just dominated the game here recently, with the velocity and the breaking balls and whatnot, so, I personally thought it was something that would probably happen going into the next season, knowing that MLB was going to do this in-depth study and take a look at what’s going on in our game. But certainly, they want to act a little bit quicker, so we have to adjust.”
–Field Level Media