The New York Yankees paid a king's ransom for Gerrit Cole and are hoping to get the best of him in, like, 12 regular-season starts this year. The dominating righthander was on point during the Yanks' intrasquad game on Tuesday. Except for the part where he allowed an opposite-field home run to Miguel Andujar after being forced to swap baseballs as part of MLB's news coronavirus-observant safety protocols.
Cole couldn't use the baseball he struck the previous batter out with because catcher Gary Sanchez, as is tradition, threw it around the horn. That means other players touched it, collecting germs, and making it unclean by the league's standards.
Cole's mild frustration was evident as he learned of the new process. Any pitcher who has felt a special connection with a specific baseball understands how profound the sense of loss can be when it's fouled away or scuffed up or any other outcome that makes it go bye-bye. And any pitcher knows it's way easier to blame giving up a dinger on inferior equipment, not operator error.
Call me crazy but perhaps it would be prudent for MLB batteries to communicate when a strikeout should be celebrated by heaving the ball down to third and when it's best to just toss it back to the mound. Every bit of strategy helps.