Aaron Cook was spiked by Chris Davis on a play at home plate in the second inning Saturday, opening a gash just below his left knee, but he was allowed to continue in the game after going to the Red Sox clubhouse and getting patched up.
As Cook walked off the field with the trainer, Red Sox reliever Clayton Mortensen jogged in from the bullpen to take over on the mound. However, as Mortensen approached the mound, the Red Sox waved him into the dugout. Cook returned to the field within about five minutes, threw two warmup pitches and then got a groundout to end the second inning.
Cook, making his Red Sox debut, opened the game by getting three straight groundouts in the first. He allowed a pair of two-out singles in the second, and a passed ball that followed resulted in a run scoring and Cook’s injury as he was trying to cover home plate. As a result, the Red Sox were down 1-0 after 1 1/2 innings.
Update: Cook probably should have stayed in the clubhouse after the injury. Struggling to keep his sinker down, he gave up four runs before being pulled in the third inning and then was charged with two more after Mortensen came in. Adam Jones’ bomb off a hanging curve probably still hasn’t landed.
On Monday, Major League Baseball announced some changes aimed at improving the game’s pace of play, something that has been a pet cause for commissioner Rob Manfred. Among the changes was a limit on mound visits whether from managers and coaches, the catcher, or other defenders. Each team will have six non-pitching change mound visits per game and one additional visit each inning in extra innings. Craig wrote more in depth on the changes here if you happened to miss it.
Angels catcher Martin Maldonado says he is going to do what’s necessary to stay on the same page with his pitchers. Via Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register, Maldonado said, “If the game is on the line, I’m going to go out there. If we’re at six [visits], and it’s going to be the seventh, I’m going to go out there, even if I have to pay a fine. I’m there for the pitchers.”
Cubs catcher Willson Contreras said as much on Tuesday. Per Josh Frydman of WGN News, Contreras said, “What about if you have a tight game and you have to go out there? They can’t say anything about that, that’s my team and we just care about wins. If they’re going to fine me about number seven mound visit, I’ll pay the price.”
Exhibition games haven’t even started yet, but two notable backstops — the lesser-known Maldonado won a Gold Glove last year — are clearly not happy with the rule change. As Craig alluded to in his article yesterday, arguments between catchers and umpires (and, subsequently, managers and umpires) are probably going to become more frequent, which would likely end up nullifying any pace of play improvements.