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NEW YORK — Mets first baseman Pete Alonso said Wednesday that he disagrees with MLB’s crackdown on pitcher-friendly foreign substances, and that the larger issue facing the sport is the league’s manipulation of baseballs depending on free-agent class — a theory he presented as “fact.”

“The biggest concern is MLB manipulates the baseball year in and year out depending on free-agency class, or guys being in an advanced part of their arbitration,” Alonso said during a videoconference with reporters.

Asked in a follow-up question if the idea of MLB manipulating baseballs based on free-agent class is something players “talk about and believe in,” Alonso replied, “Oh no, that’s a fact.”

He continued: “In 2019, there was a huge class of free-agent pitchers and then that’s quote-unquote ‘the juiced balls,’ and then 2020 was a strange year with the COVID season. But now that we’re back to playing in a regular season with a ton of shortstops or position players that are going to be paid a lot of money like high-caliber players — I mean, yeah, that’s not a coincidence. It’s definitely something that they do.”

The 2021-22 free agency is highlighted by shortstops Trevor Story, Corey Seager, Javier Baez and Carlos Correa. MLB set a leaguewide record for home runs in 2019, just two years after the previous record was broken. Pitchers around the league speculated that the baseballs were juiced in favor of the hitters.

The theory from Alonso, which he presented as fact despite providing no concrete evidence, underscores the growing distrust between the players and the league ahead of the expiration of the current collective bargaining agreement in December.

Alonso also said he didn’t think MLB was doing the right thing by cracking down on pitchers using sticky stuff while on the mound.

“For me, whether they are using pine tar, rosin, sunscreen or bullfrog or whatever they want to use to control the ball, let them use it because for me I go into the box and see guys throwing harder every day,” Alonso said. “And I don’t want 99 mph slipping out of someone’s hand because they didn’t have enough feel for it.”

The recent incident featuring Mets outfielder Kevin Pillar getting hit in the face by a pitch came top of mind for Alonso.

“We all saw what happened to Kevin Pillar,” Alonso said. “And that’s scary. We are lucky he only had a broken nose. It could be a lot worse depending on where it hits the guy.”

Alonso said that while hitting, he uses his batting gloves, a grip and pine tar to grip the baseball bat.

“Maybe if the league didn’t change the baseballs,” Alonso said, “guys wouldn’t have to use as much sticky stuff.”

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Detroit Tigers lose starter Matthew Boyd, reliever Alex Lange to injuries

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Detroit Tigers starter Matthew Boyd and reliever Alex Lange both exited with injuries, but their team still ended a three-game losing streak, beating the Kansas City Royals 10-3 on Monday night.

Boyd departed in the third because of discomfort in his left arm. Lange left after recording just one out in the fifth with shoulder trouble.

“(Boyd) came into that inning and was throwing well,” Detroit manager A.J. Hinch said. “After a few pitches he called us out. He said he felt a little something in his tricep.”

Boyd told the team trainer that his arm had felt odd the whole inning.

“We immediately removed him from the game. We’re going to send him for some tests. It’s very disappointing on the night because he was throwing the ball well with probably the best fastball he’s had in the last month,” Hinch said.

Hinch said he didn’t know whether Boyd would miss any time.

“I think Lange is going to end up on the injured list from the initial diagnosis,” Hinch said. “He’s had some shoulder issues. I didn’t even get out to the mound. By the time I got to the (foul) line, they were already walking off.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Los Angeles Angels’ Joe Maddon ‘would have no objections’ to Shohei Ohtani hitting and pitching for AL in All-Star Game

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Shohei Ohtani leads American League designated hitters in All-Star Game fan votes by a wide margin. But the Los Angeles Angels‘ two-way sensation also is putting together a spectacular season on the mound, creating the possibility of Ohtani both pitching and hitting at Coors Field in Denver on July 13.

Angels manager Joe Maddon, who has made it a point to ease most of Ohtani’s prior restrictions, wouldn’t be against it.

“Just depends on his day,” Maddon said Monday. “It’s just an inning, and I know that if he’s able to do that, I would have no objections to it. His schedule’s been great, the number of innings pitched, how many pitches he’s thrown I think is in really good order. I don’t see a dramatic spike between now and then. It would just be how he feels and what he thinks about it. I think that would be the way to determine that.

“The fact that he’s such an unusual participant, definitely would like to hear what he has to say about it.”

Ohtani (2-1), who has been better about consistently throwing strikes in recent weeks, has a 2.85 ERA with 68 strikeouts and 28 walks in 47⅓ innings through his first nine starts. He also entered Monday with a .961 OPS and 17 home runs, the latter tied for fifth most in the majors.

Ohtani, 26, had accumulated 526,608 votes in the first ballot update, nearly double the total by Boston Red Sox designated hitter J.D. Martinez (293,757). Ohtani’s teammate, Mike Trout, easily led AL outfielders with 706,503 votes despite not playing since May 17 because of a calf strain. Maddon said Trout is progressing well but is still “at least another month” away from returning off the injured list, tracking him toward the back end of the initial six- to eight-week timetable.

Trout is unlikely to return to the Angels until the season’s second half, making it “a stretch” that he appears in the All-Star Game, Maddon said. But Ohtani is on track to do so. And given his prodigious power, Ohtani also would be an obvious candidate for the Home Run Derby — if the workload isn’t too much of a concern for a player who already takes on such a large burden.

“I’m not as against that as others,” Maddon said of the Home Run Derby. “I just don’t like it when it becomes never-ending. There’s gotta be a more finite method of doing this. It is exhausting, it can be exhausting. But, again, that would be something that I would wanna ask him how he felt about it. He would be honest. I don’t think this is something you wanna attempt to force him to do or not to do. Just like we’ve been dealing with it the entire year — that would be a conversation.”

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Tyler Glasnow of Tampa Bay Rays leaves start with right elbow inflammation

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CHICAGO — Tampa Bay starter Tyler Glasnow left Monday night’s game against the Chicago White Sox after four innings with right elbow inflammation.

Glasnow allowed two runs on three hits and left with Tampa Bay leading 3-2 in a matchup of teams that entered with the two best records in the majors. The 6-foot-8 right-hander walked one and struck out six, throwing 40 of 53 pitches for strikes.

He was replaced by Ryan Thompson in the fifth.

The 27-year-old Glasnow is 5-2 with a 2.66 ERA this season and is 10-2 over his past 21 starts dating to Aug. 12, 2020.

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