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Rays ace Tyler Glasnow says he tried to adjust for ‘sticky stuff’ rules. Now he’s injured.

Tyler Glasnow says he made changes to adjust for MLB's “sticky stuff” guidance and it contributed to his injury. (Charles Rex Arbogast/AP)

Just a few hours after Major League Baseball announced the specifics of its plan to reduce the use of foreign substances, one of the game’s best starting pitchers was already pointing to the change as the cause of a tear in his elbow ligament and a strain to a tendon, an ominous start to a new era in “sticky stuff” enforcement.

Tampa Bay Rays ace Tyler Glasnow announced Tuesday that he has a small tear in the ulnar collateral ligament in his throwing elbow, an injury that often requires Tommy John surgery, though Glasnow will try to avoid that.

On a Zoom call with reporters in the wake of the news, Glasnow unleashed a frustrated monologue in which he excoriated MLB for making a major rule change midseason and drew a straight line between his injury and his recent decision to stop using sunscreen and rosin as MLB promised a crackdown.

Svrluga: Baseball’s disease is unchecked power, and sticky stuff is just another symptom

“I one hundred percent believe that contributed to me getting hurt, no doubt,” said Glasnow, who explained that he stopped using his usual combination of sunscreen and rosin — “nothing egregious” — for his 11-strikeout start against the Washington Nationals last week and woke up hurting.

“Before that start, I remember when all this stuff came out I was talking to people and talking to doctors and they were like … maybe that will add to injuries. And in my mind I was like: ‘That sounds dumb. That sounds like an excuse a player would use to make sure he can use sticky stuff,’ ” Glasnow said.

“… I woke up the next day and was like, ‘I am sore in places I didn’t even know I have muscles in.’ I felt completely different. I switched my fastball grip and my curveball grip. I’ve thrown it the same way for however many years I’ve played baseball and I had to change it.”

Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Tyler Glasnow on June 15 said MLB's midseason crack down on the use of sticky substances helped contribute to his injury. (Video: Tampa Bay Rays)

Glasnow said he had to grip the ball harder than he ever has, something he believes put more stress on his elbow and led to the injury. The 27-year-old was pitching to a 2.66 ERA in 14 starts this season.

Pitchers who violate ‘sticky stuff’ rules will face 10-game suspensions, MLB says

Trevor Bauer, who has long been at the center of the dialogue around pitchers using foreign substances, called the potential for injuries like Glasnow’s “only one of the MASSIVE problems with what MLB is doing” in a series of tweets Tuesday. Bauer wrote that while he supported the attempt to enforce the rules uniformly, he believed MLB was making a mistake in implementing that rule on the fly.

“While we’re at it, @mlb please tell us how umpires who have never been trained to know what a ‘sticky’ substance is or isn’t are supposed to automatically enforce that uniformly? What is the standard for what is ‘sticky’ and what’s not? Might want to clarify that, ya know, for ‘The competitive integrity’ of the game,” Bauer wrote on Twitter.

“It would be really unfair to have one crew think sticky is one thing and another crew to think it’s another thing. Rules are supposed to be uniformly enforced right? Almost like you should’ve used an off season to define that.”

Other players, including many of those who hit for a living, were more supportive of the rule change.

“Those of you who suddenly found a nasty slider/curveball via Spider tack see ya! Those of you who already had a nasty breaking ball it’ll be fun the compete against you again,” tweeted Steven Souza Jr., a former Nationals outfielder who is now a Dodgers minor leaguer.

Dodgers star Justin Turner was more measured.

“I think at the end of the day all we want is a fair playing field across the board for everyone,” he told reporters Tuesday.

Nationals Manager Dave Martinez said he and his staff will have to have conversations with individual pitchers about the change, and that he expects everyone to need some time to adjust.

“My biggest concern is the health of the players. Not only the batters, but also the pitchers as well,” Martinez said. “We’re going to have to navigate through this for a few days and really abide by the rules. The rules are the rules. So you can’t change that. These guys got to be aware that the only thing that goes on their hand is rosin. That’s what the rule is. So we’ll see how it goes. This is going to be an ongoing conversation, I’m sure, with the players, with MLB, but I understand what they are trying to do.”

As baseball confronts ‘sticky stuff,’ Max Scherzer lobbies for players to have a say

Milwaukee Brewers pitcher (and players’ union representative) Brent Suter said he and his teammates were wondering what the checks would be like when they take the mound for the first time under the new rules.

“Is it going to be like an airport screening or something like that?” he asked, holding his arms up in the air as if going through a metal detector. “We don’t know what it’s going to be like. I’m sure it’ll be glove check, hat check and all that stuff. But it’ll be weird for sure.”

Boston Red Sox Manager Alex Cora told reporters he has met with his players about the rule change once and plans to do so again, in part to urge them not to risk being suspended. Cora was suspended for the entire 2020 season as punishment for his role in the Houston Astros’ sign-stealing scheme.

“I come from suspension and I know how embarrassing that is and how tough that is, not only on you as a person but your family, your friends and the people that love you,” Cora said. “Ten games, a year, two years, three years, it doesn’t matter. Being suspended is hell, and you don’t want to go through that. I was very open to them, and hopefully they understand that.”

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