NEW YORK — Marcus Stroman has an idea who’s to blame for all the nagging blisters bothering pitchers lately. He’s pointing a finger at Major League Baseball.
"I feel like it’s an epidemic that’s happening across the big leagues now, a bunch of pitchers getting blisters, guys who have never had blisters before. So for MLB to turn their back to it, I think that’s kind of crazy," the Toronto Blue Jays right-hander said. "I have no theory. But obviously, I mean, it’s not a coincidence that it’s happening to so many guys all of a sudden. It’s not a coincidence."
Asked if he was implying all the blisters have something to do with an altered baseball, he would only repeat: "It’s not a coincidence."
A frustrated Stroman was removed from his start against the New York Yankees after 79 pitches Monday night because of a developing blister.
In the fifth inning, Stroman was checked on the mound by a trainer who appeared to snip some skin off one of the pitcher’s fingers. Stroman finished the inning, but then was pulled as a precaution by manager John Gibbons, who said Stroman’s finger was getting raw.
"Can’t take a chance," Gibbons said.
Stroman’s teammate, right-hander Aaron Sanchez, is on the disabled list with a blister on the middle finger of his pitching hand.
Oakland pitcher Jharel Cotton, Arizona righty Taijuan Walker and Miami lefty Justin Nicolino are among the major league pitchers who left outings or missed time recently due to blisters. David Price and Noah Syndergaard had them crop up this year, too.
"I’ve never had a blister ever in my life. Nothing even remotely close," Stroman said after Toronto’s 6-3 loss. "It’s crazy. It’s extremely frustrating. Extremely frustrating."
With hitters setting records for home run totals throughout the majors this season, some have theorized the baseball must be "juiced."
But a doctored ball causing blisters on pitchers? That might be a first — although Stroman didn’t quite go that far.
For decades, blisters have been problematic for certain pitchers. They can be the result of fingers tightly gripping or continuously rubbing on the ball, especially along the seams to create tight spin and extra movement.
Los Angeles Dodgers lefty Rich Hill has missed extensive time with recurring blisters. Ex-pitcher Al Leiter was among those who struggled with them early in his career.
Suggested remedies — some real, some mystical — have included everything from pickle brine and aloe vera to old-fashioned Elmer’s Glue.
Stroman, the MVP of the World Baseball Classic for Team USA in March, took the loss Monday despite allowing only two runs. He is 8-5 with a 3.42 ERA.
"That was the best I’ve felt all year. I feel like I’ve honestly hit my stride right now," he said. "I feel the strongest I’ve been all year. So to come out at that point when I feel like I was rolling, it’s pretty frustrating. Gibby obviously leaned on the side of being more cautious, and it’s hard to argue with that."
Stroman grew up on Long Island about 55 miles from Yankee Stadium and said he had about 15 friends and family members in the stands Monday.
"I’m going to do everything in my power to not miss my next start against Houston. I’ll be back out there in five days," he said.