Friday afternoon during batting practice, a group of Nationals relievers convened in the outfield. They joked about the memo clubhouse manager Mike Wallace showed them about two weeks before the all-star break. Major League Baseball informed teams that long laces needed to be removed from pitchers’ gloves, primarily to prevent confusion during replay reviews.
“What are they going to do?” Craig Stammen said he recalled one of the relievers saying. “Make us cut it in the middle of the game?”
Yes, it turns out. As coincidence would have it, two Nationals relievers received a mid-game pruning of their gloves’ laces. The Brewers had nothing to do with it. The umpires, as mandated by MLB, cracked down on the rule. MLB wants to avoid a replay review in which a long glove lace interferes with an angle or dictates a call.
“It’s a directive from MLB regarding replay,” Manager Matt Williams said. “Let’s say there’s a swipe tag and the pitcher is covering home plate, and the string touches a base runner. The umpire must rule him out. The directive has come from MLB to shorten them up a little bit.”
Drew Storen entered the game in the eighth inning. He had not been among the group discussing the memo, and so he had no clue why head athletic trainer Lee Kuntz walked to the mound as he warmed.
“I was like, ‘How bad do I look that he thinks I’m hurt?’ ” Storen said. “I was so confused. I was like, ‘Okay, whatever you need to do.’ I didn’t know which lace it was.”
Kuntz snipped Storen’s lace, and the game continued. Out in the bullpen, Stammen thought, “If I get in the game, I’ll get a snip.” He always tightens his glove without cutting the laces. Sure enough, when Stammen entered in the ninth, Kuntz trudged back to the mound with a pair of scissors.
The mandate had no effect on Storen and Stammen, who both fired scoreless inning. Neither had really considered the idea of tagging out a runner with their glove lace, either.
“Just kind of go with the bullwhip tag,” Storen said. “That would be sick.”