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Rays’ Rich Hill says union deserves some blame for new rules mess

Rays notes | Implementation of the rule banning pitchers from applying substances to baseballs could have been handled better.
While Major League Baseball is being criticized for insisting on the change in the middle of the season, Rays veteran Rich Hill said the players union also is to blame.
While Major League Baseball is being criticized for insisting on the change in the middle of the season, Rays veteran Rich Hill said the players union also is to blame. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]
Published Jun. 17
Updated Jun. 17

Much has been said already, most notably by now-injured Rays starter Tyler Glasnow, about the cause and effect of the rules being implemented banning pitchers using substances to improve their grip on baseballs.

While Major League Baseball is being criticized for insisting on the change in the middle of the season, Rays veteran Rich Hill said the players union also is to blame.

“I think this falls on the P.A., the players association; this is where they dropped the ball,” Hill said Wednesday in Chicago. “I think that this is where something should have been done. The players association had the opportunity to work with MLB, and MLB used their strong hand to put it on the players. And that’s unfortunate that this is what happened. I feel like a rule change in the middle of the season is very difficult for everybody across the league.”

League officials told teams in March they were going to start looking intensively into the issue, so the changes are not a total surprise. Hill said it was “a little disheartening” that they did so “without the okay” from the players.

“They could have went to the table and met,” he said. “They should have come together and settled this and handled it like professionals.”

Especially, Hill said, given the need to grow the game, which all parties should share in, coming off two pandemic-impacted seasons.

Hill, 41, also hinted a potential conspiracy theory suggested by others — that league owners, heading into a confrontational negotiation for a new labor agreement by next season, had another motive to implementing the rule changes now.

“Part of this wants me to think that it’s a distraction to put hitters and pitchers against each other,” Hill said, “which, again, isn’t going to do anything to help grow the game.”

McHugh on COVID-19 injured list

Reliever Collin McHugh woke up Wednesday feeling sick and run down, so he was placed on the COVID-19-related injured list in a precautionary move, with Chris Mazza called up from Triple-A Durham. By Wednesday afternoon, the Rays said McHugh, who has been vaccinated, had two negative tests (the regular saliva test done Tuesday and a rapid nasal swab done Wednesday) and was feeling better. A further sign he could rejoin the team soon, Mazza, who threw eight pitches in striking out two batters, was optioned back to the Bulls after the game.

Miscellany

• Catcher Francisco Mejia made his first career appearance at first base and made a potential game-saving play in stopping a Brian Goodwin smash down the line with a runner on second in the ninth. Playing at times with a three-man bench (and only five infielders), the Rays have been giving Mejia some work at first.

• Michael Wacha will fill the opening in the rotation created by Glasnow’s injury and start Friday in Seattle. Wacha, who missed three weeks in May with a hamstring issue, hasn’t thrown more than three innings or 48 pitches since April.

• Though Glasnow said he plans to rehab the partial tear in his ulnar collateral ligament and flexor strain and avoid surgery, he is still collecting information on options, with a visit planned Friday to see specialist Dr. Keith Meister in Texas.

• Catcher Mike Zunino said he was looking forward to making his second return trip to Seattle, having played his first six big-league seasons with the Mariners before a November 2018 trade to the Rays. “I cherish the time that I had there, so it will be nice to go back,” he said.

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