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Yankees' Gerrit Cole: MLB 'shortsighted' in dismissing potential correlation between pitch clock and arm injuries

Major League Baseball and the Players Association have been in a war of words regarding the pitch clock’s impact on arm injuries, and Yankees ace Gerrit Cole weighed in on Monday.

Cole, who is likely out until June 1 at the earliest due to elbow inflammation, told reporters that the league dismissing the correlation between the pitch clock and the uptick in recent major pitching injuries—such as Atlanta’s Spencer Strider and Cleveland’s Shane Bieber -- is “shortsighted,” while also saying the issue is not as “black and white” as either the league or union made it sound in their respective statements.

"When I read the response from MLB, I just didn’t think it was very thorough,” Cole said. “I mean, to be able to say that you implement something in one year and it has no effect, it’s shortsighted.

“I mean, we are going to really understand the effects of what the pitch quantity is maybe five years down the road, but to dismiss it out of hand is – I didn't think that was helpful to the situation. I think the players are obviously the most important aspect of this industry and this product and the care of the players should be of utmost importance to both sides.”

Major League Baseball implemented the pitch clock before the 2023 season, giving pitchers just 15 seconds to throw a pitch with the bases empty and 20 seconds with any runners on base. For this season, that 20 second limit was reduced to 18 seconds in an attempt to speed up the game even more.

“Despite unanimous player opposition and significant concerns regarding health and safety, the commissioner’s office reduced the length of the pitch clock last December, just one season removed from imposing the most significant rule change in decades,” MLBPA executive director Tony Clark said in a statement on Saturday.

MLB responded with the following statement:

“This statement ignores the empirical evidence and much more significant long-term trend, over multiple decades, of velocity and spin increases that are highly correlated with arm injuries. Nobody wants to see pitchers get hurt in this game, which is why MLB is currently undergoing a significant comprehensive research study into the causes of this long-term increase, interviewing prominent medical experts across baseball which to date has been consistent with an independent analysis by Johns Hopkins University that found no evidence to support that the introduction of the pitch clock has increased injuries.

“In fact, JHU found no evidence that pitchers who worked quickly in 2023 were more likely to sustain an injury than those who worked less quickly on average. JHU also found no evidence that pitchers who sped up their pace were more likely to sustain an injury than those who did not.”

Cole referred to that MLB statement as “combative,” saying that players, whose health should always be at the forefront, have been put in the middle of the two sides of this argument.

“Two seconds? Like, I don’t know what advertising money you’re getting for two seconds that makes it logical to move it up for two seconds,” Cole said. “I know that games got longer as the season went on, but you’re not going to change the curve of that direction.”

“I don’t know what the answer is,” Cole added, “but I know it’s not black and white like both of the statements that were put out.

“People want to come see their players. So that’s of the utmost importance.”