Yankees’ Gerrit Cole ‘frustrated’ as MLB, players’ union spar over pitch clock

Count Gerrit Cole among the pitchers who believe MLB should at least reconsider the pitch clock, now in its second season of use.

“I’m just frustrated by the fact that I don’t feel like the players are the main focus, and taking care of players is the main focus,” Cole said Monday.

The latest public fight between MLB and the MLBPA regarding the pitch clock and its possible correlation to arm injuries among pitchers erupted Saturday, when the union released a statement saying that players’ concerns have “intensified,” according to executive director Tony Clark, only to see MLB release its own statement, pointing to a study by Johns Hopkins that dismissed the potential tie-in between the pitch clock and injuries.

Gerrit Cole addressed the latest public fight between MLB and the MLBPA. Charles Wenzelberg

“When I read the response from MLB, I didn’t think it was very thorough,” Cole said. “To be able to say you implement something in one year and it has no effect, is short-sighted. We are really gonna know the effect of the pitch clock maybe five years down the road. To dismiss it out of hand, I didn’t think that was helpful to the situation.”

Cole, who was involved in the union for the first 10 years of his major league career — and who has been sidelined since March with an elbow injury — said both sides need to turn down the rhetoric.

“My initial thoughts of the verbal dustup between the two [sides] was I was disheartened, really,” Cole said.

The veteran right-hander said it was important to look at a number of factors like increased effort on each pitch and looking for added velocity and movement — as well as the pitch clock, which was reduced by the league by two seconds this season.

“It’s irresponsible for either side to say any one of those things has no impact on pitchers’ elbows or shoulders,” Cole said. “That’s not helpful.”

He said he was looking for “some empathy, something” from the league and added he didn’t believe the pitch clock was to blame for his own elbow inflammation that will keep him out at least until June.

“We want higher performance, but we also want durability,” Cole said. “We want [Shohei] Ohtani to pitch, we want Shane [Bieber] to pitch. … If there’s one thing everyone should be able to get on the same side about, it’s to have the best players out there as much as possible.”

Both Cole and Yankees manager Aaron Boone said there were no clear answers about what to do regarding the amount of elbow injuries being seen, with Cole, Ohtani and Bieber among those whose arms have been hurt.

MLBPA executive director Tony Clark released a statement Sunday about the concerning arm injuries. Getty Images

But what bothered Cole more was the fact the league didn’t seem to take the union’s concerns seriously.

He noted MLB was within its rights to both institute the clock in 2023 and cut it down this season, but didn’t agree with it.

“I think the players are the most important aspect of this industry and product,” Cole said. “And the care of the players should be of utmost importance to both sides.”

And that’s why Cole said “both sides” had the responsibility to address the situation.

He also took aim at MLB commissioner Rob Manfred.

“Rob is supposed to care about the players,” Cole said. “That is his job.”

Gerrit Cole said that commissioner Rob Manfred is “supposed to care about the players.” USA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con

Cole asked if Manfred signed MLB’s statement that came in rebuttal to the MLBPA’s opening salvo.

Told no one signed it, Cole responded, “At least Tony did.”


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