CHICAGO — Tampa Bay Rays right-hander Tyler Glasnow sounded off on Major League Baseball’s crackdown of foreign substances Tuesday after he was diagnosed with a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament and a flexor tendon strain.
Glasnow said, in advance of MLB’s initiative, he did away with using sunscreen — the only foreign substance he said he has ever used — two starts ago and felt sore the next day due to needing to adjust his grips. He did the same in Monday’s outing against the Chicago White Sox and then felt something “pop” in his arm.
“I switched my fastball grip and my curveball grip,” an animated Glasnow said on a videoconference with reporters. “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 s— out of all my pitches.”
Glasnow left Monday night’s game after four innings. He said he understands what MLB is trying to do in eliminating Spider Tack and other sticky substances but has an issue with doing it midseason and eliminating everything all at once.
Teams were informed Tuesday that starting Monday, pitchers will be subject to random checks and could face ejections, fines and suspensions if found with any foreign substances on them or in their gloves.
Glasnow said there was talk going back a couple of weeks that eliminating anything that helps pitchers’ grip could lead to an increase in injuries.
“In my mind that sounds dumb,” Glasnow said. “That sounds like an excuse a player would use to make sure he could use sticky stuff. I threw to the Nationals … I did well. I woke up the next day and I was sore in places I didn’t even know I had muscles in.”
Glasnow struck out 11 hitters over seven innings against the Nationals on June 8, calling it one of his better outings of the year. For him, it was proof he doesn’t need any substances to help his performance — just to assist in his grip.
“Waking up after that start, I was like, ‘This sucks,'” Glasnow recalled. “Something is weird here. That same feeling is persisting all week long. I go into my start [Monday] and that same feeling [is there], it pops or whatever the hell happened to my elbow. I feel it. Something happened.
“Do it in the offseason. Give us a chance to adjust to it. But I just threw 80 innings, then you tell me I can’t use anything in the middle of the year. I have to change everything I’ve been doing the entire season. I’m telling you I truly believe that’s why I got hurt.”
The Rays veteran explained how he used to hold the ball like an “egg” but since doing away with any grip enhancers, he has had to squeeze it much harder. It put a strain on his arm.
“That’s out of the window,” he said of his old grips. “I have to develop something where I can’t hold the ball light anymore. I have to dig it deep into my hand. I’m taking a fastball and squeezing it twice as hard.
“Me throwing 100 mph and being [6-foot-7] is why I got hurt, but that contributed. I’m frustrated that they don’t understand how hard it is to pitch, and to tell us to do something completely different in the middle of the season is insane. It’s ridiculous.”
Glasnow claims many of his fellow players believe the same — including hitters.
“We had a union meeting, 36 reps were on there,” Glasnow said. “And it was like, ‘Does anyone have a problem with sunscreen and rosin?’ No. Not a single person said there was a problem with it. Hitters said go ahead and use it.”
“They’ve knowingly swept this under the rug for 4 years. Now they implement a knee jerk reaction to shifting public perception. Hard to hear them talk about ‘competitive integrity’ when they have no integrity to begin with,” he wrote.
He added: “To be clear, the memo is fine long term, and it will serve to level the playing field. That is a good thing. But to implement it mid season when for 3 months you’ve promised players and teams that nothing about your chosen enforcement of the rules would change this year and actively encouraged players to continue playing how that have in the past, that’s a lie. There’s no integrity in that. So save it with the competitive integrity bulls— …”
To avoid forcing umpires to attempt to differentiate between sunscreen and stickier substances, like Spider Tack, MLB chose to eliminate all grip enhancers.
“Sunscreen and rosin is apparently the same as Spider Tack,” Glasnow said. “All right, I guess I’ll adapt and learn. And the only thing I learned was that it hurts to throw a ball in the middle of the season from having something to not having something.”
Glasnow might return for the postseason, as he won’t have surgery as of now, but that’s no consolation for a pitcher who said he believes he was dealt an unneeded blow to his year.
“I’m sitting here, my lifelong dream. I want to go out and win a Cy Young,” he stated. “I want to be an All-Star and now it’s s— on. Now it’s over. Now I have to rehab and try to get back in the playoffs. I’m clearly frustrated.”
Glasnow said he plans to see another doctor Friday. He was placed on the 10-day injured list, and outfielder Mike Brosseau was recalled from Triple-A Durham.