Anyone that has watched the movie Bull Durham knows that when you get in a fight with a drunk you never hit them with your pitching hand. The same thing goes when you are letting off steam in the dugout.
Michael Kopech has yet to learn that lesson. After a rough fifth inning that saw him give up a two-run homer to Astros shortstop, Mauricio Dubon, Kopech let his frustration boil over in the dugout. He was caught on camera striking something in the corner of the dugout, with his pitching arm. Fortunately for Kopech his forearm and elbow took the brunt of the force and he was not injured.
Nevertheless, it was an ill-advised move for the 26-year-old.
“One thing you learn as a young pitcher. You make your living with your arm and your hand,” White Sox broadcaster and former Cy Young winner Steve Stone wrote on Twitter. “I don’t care how mad or frustrated you are. You never…I repeat…you never hit anything with your pitching hand. It’s beyond stupid.”
One thing you learn as a young pitcher. You make your living with your arm and your hand. I don’t care how mad or frustrated you are. You never…I repeat…you never hit anything with your pitching hand. It’s beyond stupid
— Steve Stone (@stevestone) June 20, 2022
His actions could have easily derailed the White Sox season. The move was reminiscent of when Carlos Quentin broke his wrist after slamming his bat against it in frustration. Quentin, who was batting .288 with 36 homers and a team-high 100 RBIs, was lost for the season. His absence from the lineup cost the White Sox in the playoffs. When Quentin returned the following season he was not the same player.
Kopech has been the White Sox’s most effective starter this season. He owns a 2.38 ERA and 0.99 WHIP, all while holding opponents to a .158 batting average. If he broke his hand it would be a costly blow to the White Sox starting rotation.
Kopech has always been a fierce competitor. But this is not the first time his temper has gotten the best of him. While he was in the Red Sox organization he broke his hand after punching a teammate. Kopech has matured a lot since then, but given his elite talent, he holds himself to high standards.
Allowing four earned runs to the Astros during a nationally televised game was a disappointment, especially after leaving his last start early with right knee discomfort.
Kopech addressed the incident after the game.
“The truth is, I care a lot about this game, and I want to go out there and play to the best of my ability and be the best competitor I can be every time I go out there,” Kopech told reporters. “I wasn’t any of those things today.
“I had to kind of be challenged with a little bit of adversity and a little bit of an emotional challenge. That got the better of me today. I don’t know. It happens, I guess.”
If there was any silver lining it’s that Kopech looked healthy after having his knee drained earlier in the week. He was able to go five innings, giving up four runs, on seven hits with four strikeouts. However, one of the home runs he allowed went into Minuet Maid Park’s Crawford Box and would not have been a home run in any other major league stadium.
“There are positives to take away from today,” Kopech said. “I was pretty efficient for the most part. I was able to work out of some jams. But overall it was not good enough.