Gerrit Cole calls out MLB over pitcher injuries after taking first step toward return

Could Cole's influence result in change?
Toronto Blue Jays v New York Yankees
Toronto Blue Jays v New York Yankees / Sarah Stier/GettyImages

On Monday, the New York Yankees got great news when it was revealed Gerrit Cole threw off flat ground for the first time since going down with inflammation in his pitching elbow. The 9-2 Yankees are surviving without him, but they'll need him back the moment he's ready.

The projection has been early June, which isn't the worst timeline in the world considering New York has started 9-2 and has seen the pitching staff hold up rather admirably. But what was supposed to be a helpful update about Cole turned into an MLB-wide discourse with a back-and-forth about the overall health of pitchers.

Cole called out Major League Baseball for its response to the players association's concern over the rise in elbow injuries. The introduction of the pitch clock, as well as the banning of sticky substances, has many pitchers believing those are direct causes.

The league disagrees, however, and Cole felt the need to say something. Rather than maintaining an ongoing conversation to get to the root of the problem, Cole seemingly felt as if the league was shutting it down to avoid further controversy.

A year after MLB introduced the controversial pitch clock, which was already a hot button issue, they reduced the timer from 20 seconds to 18 seconds for 2024 in what's felt like an arbitrary, unnecessary push in the wrong direction.

Gerrit Cole calls out MLB over pitcher injuries after taking first step toward return

“Well, we can start by having more helpful conversations and not pointing fingers and not saying that it’s absolutely this or it’s absolutely not that and we can make it feel that players aren’t necessarily caught in the middle of all of it,” Cole said. “But those aren’t going to have a direct correlation to better performance. I don’t have the answers. I’m just frustrated by the fact that I don’t feel like taking care of the players is the main focus of it.”

Some rival fans have criticized Cole for his commentary because ... why else? Any time somebody speaks out or has a response, it's automatically labeled as "whining." But Cole's far from alone in his gripes with the league, and he certainly has some sort of an obligation after being involved with the MLBPA for a decade and representing the league as one of its best pitchers.

Could we have used a better analogy? Sure. But the point still stands. Rob Manfred's MLB has felt like a unilateral rule with a lack of input from the most important and integral figures. This is far from the only issue that has arisen since he took over as commissioner after Bud Selig's reign ended.

The Yankees, in particular, have been victimized by far too many pitching injuries over the last year, so anybody on the roster has a right to speak up. Cole's efforts should be viewed favorably because he's someone who can help the conversation progress.

Feel free to think otherwise, but we'll then know you're probably a Red Sox, Astros, Blue Jays, Rays, Orioles or Mets fan.