MLB, Mets meet to discuss rash of HBPs

April 29th, 2022

NEW YORK -- Coming off a series in which a rash of hit batsmen led to a benches-clearing incident, Mets players and coaches met Friday with Major League Baseball executive vice president of baseball operations Morgan Sword and other league officials.

The meeting, according to Mets manager Buck Showalter, included “a lot of good give and take.”

“I appreciate Morgan Sword coming out,” Showalter said. “Morgan presented some things that [Mets players] may not have known about, and they presented some things. That’s how you make good decisions, is you listen to the people that are actually throwing the baseball and hitting the baseball, and you listen to the people who are doing all the work to improve our game and to try to keep it safe.”

After Pete Alonso was hit in the helmet with a pitch for the second time this season on Tuesday, various Mets players indicated that they believed either the composition of the baseball, or the ban of sticky substances used to help pitchers grip the ball, was responsible for many of the errant pitches. MLB officials explained that the rate of hit batsmen around the league has not actually increased since last season, and in fact has decreased since 2020.

Those figures didn’t necessarily appease the Mets, given how often they’ve been pitched inside this season -- their right-handed batters lead the league in that category -- and how many balls they’ve taken to sensitive areas. Showalter estimated that his batters have been hit 15 times in the shoulder, neck and head since the start of Spring Training. When the Mets were hit with their 19th pitch of the regular season on Wednesday, no other team had been struck more than 11 times.

Still, Showalter said, the dialogue appeased many members of the Mets, who simply wanted assurance that MLB is working on a solution. Along with Sword, former MLB pitcher Dan Otero attended the meeting on Friday.

“Being on those committees sometimes, you understand how many things are really going on behind the scenes that don’t get broadcast,” Showalter said, citing various examples. “‘Hey, have you ever thought about a pitch clock?’ Well, they’ve been working on it for three years and trying on it and looking at different things.’ We all know that pitchers may have taken [sticky stuff] too far one way, and now we’re just kind of looking to see if we might have taken it too far the other way.”