Last night Ryan Zimmerman made his fourth throwing error in 15 games since returning from an abdominal injury and Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post writes that the third baseman made a decision to “overhaul his throwing mechanics in the middle of a season” to avoid future injuries.
Despite his struggles, Zimmerman told Kilgore that he’s sticking with the plan:
Just like any new thing, it’s going to take a little while. It’s obviously tough to learn while you’re at this level. But I get better every day. As far as the future, and getting more consistent, it’s worth it. It’s something I’m going to stick with and get better at.
It’s tough, but it’s better. If I thought that the way it was compared to this wasn’t going to be a big difference, I wouldn’t do it. But because I think it can make me a better player, that’s the ultimate goal. If I didn’t think it was worth it, I would maybe stop it and try to start it in the offseason. It’s going to be worth it in the long run.
Zimmerman was an elite, Gold Glove-caliber third baseman with his old throwing mechanics, so in that sense he’s fixing something that definitely wasn’t broken, but avoiding more time on the disabled list is the priority for now and the determination was made that his old throwing mechanics put him at further risk to aggravate the abdominal injury.
He’s also just 13-for-66 (.197) at the plate since returning from the DL, so altered throwing style or not Zimmerman’s struggles may have a lot to do with simply being rusty after two months off.
ESPN’s Howard Bryant is reporting that Major League Baseball has approved a rule allowing for a dugout signal for an intentional walk. In other words, baseball is allowing automatic intentional walks. Bryant adds that this rule will be effective for the 2017 season.
MLB has been trying, particularly this month, to improve the pace of play. Getting rid of the formality of throwing four pitches wide of the strike zone will save a minute or two for each intentional walk. There were 932 of them across 2,428 games last season, an average of one intentional walk every 2.6 games. It’s not the biggest improvement, but it’s something at least.
Earlier, Commissioner Rob Manfred was upset with the players’ union’s “lack of cooperation.” Perhaps his public criticism was the catalyst for getting this rule passed.
Unfortunately, getting rid of the intentional walk formality will eradicate the chance of seeing any more moments like this:
Earlier, Craig covered Rob Manfred’s comments in which he accused the Major League Baseball Players’ Association of “a lack of cooperation” concerning some proposed rule changes. The union would need to agree to any such changes, which have included automatic intentional walks, limiting mound visits, pitch clocks, and swapping batting practice times for home and visiting teams.
Manfred went on to say that MLB will impose those rule changes unilaterally next year as allowed in the latest collective bargaining agreement.
Tony Clark, the executive director of the MLBPA, responded to Manfred’s comment. Via Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports:
“Unless your definition of ‘cooperation’ is blanket approval, I don’t agree that we’ve failed to cooperate with the Commissioner’s office on these issues.”
“Two years ago we negotiated pace of play protocols that had an immediate and positive impact. Last year we took a step backward in some ways, and this off season we’ve been in regular contact with MLB and with our members to get a better handle on why that happened.”
“I would be surprised if those discussions with MLB don’t continue, notwithstanding today’s comments about implementation. As I’ve said, fundamental changes to the game are going to be an uphill battle, but the lines of communication should remain open.”
“My understanding is that MLB wants to continue with the replay changes (2min limit) and the no-pitch intentional walks and the pace of Game warning/fine adjustments.”
Clark’s response isn’t anything too shocking. Manfred’s accusation was pretty baseless, but it’s behavior to be expected of a commissioner who comes down on the side of the owners over the players almost always.