Last Wednesday, Cubs fans — and manager David Ross — watched in horror as Kyle Hendricks nearly got seriously injured in a collision at first base. If you missed it in the recap to that Cubs/Padres game, here it is again [VIDEO].
“I think I threw up in my mask there for a second,” Ross said Thursday. “Immediately, like, I’m panicked a little bit, just, ‘Please, get up,’ kind of thoughts going on in my head.”
Yeah, that’s kind of how I felt, too. Though Ross hasn’t officially announced it yet, Hendricks will be the Cubs’ Opening Day starter.
Why am I bringing this up yet again? Because another possibly serious injury happened to a team’s Opening Day starter while batting. And not even during a game!
Zac Gallen was scratched today with "right lateral forearm soreness," manager Torey Lovullo said.— Nick Piecoro (@nickpiecoro) March 22, 2021
#Dbacks manager Torey Lovullo said that Zac Gallen felt the discomfort when swinging a bat not when throwing.— Steve Gilbert (@SteveGilbertMLB) March 22, 2021
Gallen said he first started feeling discomfort when he was jammed by a pitch while taking batting practice off a pitching machine on March 10.
The right-hander didn’t think much of it and went ahead and made his scheduled start on March 12. The only time Gallen felt discomfort when pitching was when he threw his curveball. He started getting treatment the following day, and he made his scheduled start St. Patrick’s Day against the Rangers.
“I just thought it was something like always, you know, just get jammed, go away in a couple days,” Gallen said. “I was fine pitching on it. Like I said the other pitches felt perfectly OK, but it was just kind of lingering and so we figured let’s take a deeper dive and see what we got here.”
I’m going to ask yet again: Why do we have to keep hearing these stories when the simple solution, the universal DH, is available to MLB team owners? Why do they risk losing valuable assets, starting pitchers, when they don’t have to?
In this ESPN.com article that’s mostly about Jacob deGrom, Buster Olney lobbies heavily for MLB officials to change their minds and institute the universal DH:
Only 11 days remain before Opening Day and National League teams continue to operate out of necessity as if there is going to be no universal designated hitter. Every day that passes without Major League Baseball surrendering to the players’ association on the DH issue is another day of unnecessary injury risk for National League pitchers, another day bypassing what just about everybody on both sides recognizes as a product enhancement. The overlords of the sport want more action and the universal DH could increase action, unless your definition of action is seeing pitchers bunt or strike out on five pitches instead of three.
It’s fewer than 11 days now, but Olney is right. Beyond the “unnecessary injury risk,” adding a DH to National League lineups would indeed bring more action to the sport.
Please don’t make the “why don’t we DH for other bad hitters” argument. No position players hit as poorly as pitchers. Please don’t make the “pitchers should practice hitting more” argument because, well, they can’t. Even with four days in between starts, they are throwing bullpens, working out, watching video of their next opponent. Beyond that, as Ryan Dempster told me a couple years ago:
“You have to remember, you’re hitting [in games] once every fifth day. And then on top of it, your real work is your pitching, so I’m going to throw bullpens and watch video. It’s not that you don’t have time, but to throw all your energy into hitting, too — mentally, you need a break. So you go through all your pitching routines, and working out, plus, you have to be careful. You don’t want to be asked, ‘Why’s his back getting sore?’ and have to say, ‘Well, I was taking 150 swings a day in the cage.’”
Don’t post the Bartolo Colon homer GIF, either. Yes, that was fun. Acknowledged and stipulated. Colon hit one home run in 326 career plate appearances — while striking out 166 times. It’s not worth it for the one homer.
And if you don’t believe me, maybe you’ll believe Craig Calcaterra, who addressed all the anti-DH arguments quite well in this article from last June, including the fact that the DH was first proposed in 1891. Eighteen Ninety-One. 130 years ago. It’s not new, and neither is the fact that pitchers can’t hit. For me, it makes the game less enjoyable to watch, beyond the worries about a pitcher being injured doing something he’s not really qualified to do.
Or maybe you’ll believe Marlins manager Don Mattingly:
Donny said he hopes Zac Gallen's injury could be spur a late change to the DH rule, but he's not very optimistic.— Ethan Budowsky (@ethanbudowsky) March 23, 2021
He doesn't want pitchers to hit, I'm sure it's a concern for him about the health of his starters, and he said nobody wants to see a pitcher bunt or strike out.
One week from Thursday, games will count. It would take a simple announcement from Commissioner Rob Manfred to institute the universal DH beginning that day.
C’mon, Rob. For once in your tenure as Commissioner, do something that everyone in baseball — players and owners — wants to see happen.
The universal DH for 2021...
This poll is closed