Dodgers pitcher Rich Hill, who is currently on the 10-day disabled list recuperating from a finger blister, has been outspoken about the changes he’s observed to the physical surface of baseballs during his career. He believes these changes have led directly to the blisters he and other pitchers have suffered in recent years.
MLB commissioned an independent team of scientists to study the baseballs, and how the balls might have caused the home run rate to rise since 2015. The league released its report Thursday. It can be read in its entirety here.
On Friday, Hill discussed the topic of changes to the baseball with reporters. Here are the questions and his answers, edited lightly for clarity:
Q: Did you read the 84-page report on the baseballs?
A: I only read the headline. I’m sure it was probably skewed to one side. I don’t know. I’ve got a whole bunch of them; I’ve got a box full of baseballs up there and we can go through them and you can see all the discrepancies that are different. There are differences in the baseball – even to the naked eye you can see things that are different. I talked to (MLB’s senior vice president of baseball operations) Peter Woodfork in Mexico. He was saying the only problem is that, if they could get a machine to do the baseballs it would probably find more consistency, they just don’t have a machine that can do the final stitch in the baseball, which I guess has to be inverted so the seams don’t fray at the end. So the seams don’t come outside the baseball, they go inside the baseball. That’s how they finish off the baseball. It can only be done by hand. So he was saying if there’s a machine out there that can do that, it can be incredibly beneficial to the players. Also to whoever invents it, because they would be substantially well-compensated, I guess. But they don’t have (the technology).
Q: (The report) said there’s nothing different with the baseball. It’s more aerodynamic but they don’t know why. They couldn’t conclude that the seam height or anything on the ball’s surface is causing a change in aerodynamics.
A: It has to be. You design something that’s supposed to be in, I don’t know anything in that department, but just from layman’s eyesight, that would make sense. You’re designing a car that’s built for speed and if you have any kind of design changes, it would affect the way that it performs. Just like in the Olympics, swimmers weren’t allowed to wear those uniforms anymore because it made them go faster. There’s something to that, right? That’s interesting. I would feel that if they were to put all this money into research and development in the baseball, they would actually – I haven’t read the report so I shouldn’t be commenting on it – but if the seams are different width, height, from even in a group of five baseballs, there has to be something going on with the lot of them, I would think.
Q: One chart in the report quantified the variation in seam height measurements year-over-year.
A: You don’t need a machine to tell you that. You can just look at the baseballs and tell. I’ve taken baseballs out of a bag, or that have been thrown out of a game, and seams have been stitched like crooked. They’re not even stitched symmetrically to the baseballs. It’s like, ‘what is this?’ I just know in 2005, I believe the seams were much more consistent and they were lower profile to the baseball. Again, the only way I can compare it to is like playing with oversized clubs in golf to blades. You have something that’s lower seams, the ball plays much more true, and you have to actually execute properly with your release point to have the ball do what you want it to do – and the action on the baseball is much better. If you threw it correctly. Now I believe you can get away with, not inadequate mechanics, but faults in your mechanics to have the ball do what you want it to do. In golf, you hit the ball with blades, and everybody knows, at least in the golfing world, you would understand how much more difficult it is to shape a shot with a blade than it is with an oversized club. That’s the best example I can give.
Q: And when you say ‘the action on the baseball is much better,’ you’re talking about when it leaves your hand as a pitcher, the movement that you get?
A: Correct. I think it changed from I think mid-2016. As everybody knows throughout baseball, it’s not just me. (Justin) Verlander dealt with it. Johnny Cueto dealt with it. (Aaron) Sanchez dealt with it. How many more other guys? There’s a big number of guys that have dealt with blisters throughout the last two and a half, three years than was the case before that. (Marcus) Stroman, (Brandon) McCarthy. There’s probably many more too.
Q: So are you noticing this variation in the seams from batch to batch, or even within each batch?
A: There’s variation from ball to ball. Wider seams, higher seams, thinner seams, lower seams. The leather’s different I’m sure. I’ve heard many guys comment that when you sign a baseball, it’s how the ink is absorbed into the ball. If you look at that, if you have signed baseballs or collect baseballs, and you see how some (signatures) fade faster than others, why does this one stay? Why does this one not stay? There’s variations in the leather. I’m told all the leather comes from Tennessee. I think just like everyone’s skin is going to be different, the hides are going to be different. Now do you go to a bonded leather composite baseball where you’re going to get much more consistent feel for the ball? I don’t know the answer to that one. We can sit down and go through a bag of baseballs. Honestly. (There will be) maybe six or seven that are the same. Four or five that are different. It is interesting.
Q: If the physicists’ report claims ‘there’s something different with the ball but we aren’t sure what it is’ does that satisfy you?
A: No, because I think it comes down to a health and safety issue. It’s an issue that’s going on. It has to be solved for the health and safety of the pitchers. For the ownership, for the fans, for people who want to see pitchers stay on the mound, they have to come up with a solution. I don’t enjoy sitting here being paid and not producing. I don’t enjoy that at all. I want to play. I love playing. I’m passionate about playing. I think anyone in any locker room throughout baseball, that’s what they want to do. I think either come up with a solution – don’t change the balls, keep them the same, come with a solution where pitchers can tape their finger and get it approved like a boxer, before they go up there and play and say, ‘you’re good to go,’ sign it and go pitch. It definitely has to be something where it is solved. Even in Trevor Bauer’s case a couple years ago in the World Series where a cut was on the back of his finger, and you can’t let him tape it up so he can go pitch? That’s absurd. They should let him go out there. It’s not like he’s aiding baseball by super-gluing his finger so it doesn’t bleed all over the place. Just so he can pitch.
I think it’s more of a timing thing. When you take into the fact that we still have two trainers on the pension plan. Sure, we had two trainers throughout baseball up until a certain point. Now all of a sudden everybody’s investing in the clubhouse. Add another trainer on to the pension. Add a strength and conditioning coach on there. All of a sudden – it’s like a behind-the-times kind of issue where it has to be brought up to speed. That’s just another example where it has to be brought up to the times.
Q: So, until they can figure out what’s wrong with the baseballs and come up with a solution, you want to be allowed to tape your fingers so you can go out and pitch?
A: The problem is, it’s our job to go out there and pitch. That’s it, period. Not to be doing research or pull up scientific data on what is going on with the baseballs. Just go out and play. That’s the job of the player. That’s all anybody wants to do. It’s up to Major League Baseball to figure out what is going on and make proper changes. Make sure that the health and safety of the pitcher is OK. I don’t care if the ball is juiced and they’re going another 20 feet or whatever. That’s great for baseball. People like home runs. Awesome. At the same time, if it’s affecting the ability for the pitcher to stay healthy, to go out there on the field consistently, it’s affecting their career, the pitcher’s career, but it’s also affecting what the fans want to come out and see. Ownership (is affected). So I believe that it’s really not for us to figure out. It’s for Major League Baseball to come up with a consistent product. If the basketballs were different, don’t you think that would make a huge difference in the game of basketball. If the hockey pucks were different.
However they have to do it, make it consistent and safe for the pitchers.
- Former Red Sox pitcher Rich Hill penned a tribute to his son Brooks
- Rich Hill absorbs early HRs and leads Dodgers past Cubs
- Rich Hill shuts down Reds as Dodgers offense powers up again
- Dodgers' Rich Hill could be a bullpen option in the playoffs
- Dodgers pitcher Kenta Maeda headed to 10-day injured list
- Alexander: For Dodgers’ Rich Hill, no taking it easy in a rehab stint
Dodgers pitcher Rich Hill: ‘I don’t care if the ball is juiced’ have 1787 words, post on www.dailybreeze.com at May 24, 2018. This is cached page on Talk Vietnam. If you want remove this page, please contact us.