MLB provided guidance to all 30 teams Tuesday that it will strictly enforce rules against the use of foreign substances on baseballs beginning Monday, June 21.
To ensure that the enforcement of these rules is consistent, umpires have been instructed to regularly check pitchers on both teams throughout the game, whether or not they suspect a violation of the rules.
Starting pitchers will have more than one mandatory check per game, while relief pitchers must be checked either at the conclusion of an inning or prior to being removed.
A player who refuses to cooperate with an inspection conducted by an umpire will be presumed to have violated the rules and receive an ejection.
Those who possess or apply foreign substances are in violation of the playing rules and immediately will be ejected from the game. They consequently will be suspended as well.
First-time offenders will receive a 10-game suspension with pay. The punishment for repeat offenders will increase to lengthier suspensions and the loss of salary. Teams will not be permitted to replace a player that is suspended for any on-field violation.
Catchers additionally will be subject to routine inspections by umpires. Other position players could be checked as well but won’t be ejected unless they apply the substance to the ball to aid the pitcher.
Pitchers ultimately will be responsible for any ball with a foreign substance on it. If another player is found to have applied a substance to a ball, both he and the pitcher will be ejected and receive a subsequent suspension.
What’s more, team employees who help or encourage pitchers to use foreign substances will be subject to fines and/or suspensions. The Department of Investigations will look into clubs whose players repeatedly violate the rules.
While foreign substances will no longer be permitted, MLB clarified that pitchers can still use rosin bags in accordance with the rules. Players may not combine rosin with other substances nor apply sunscreen during night games or when playing in indoor stadiums.
MLB believes ban on foreign substances will make games safer
Although pitchers had a clear advantage when applying foreign substances on baseballs, some hitters didn’t mind as they felt there was less of a chance of them being hit by a pitch.
Based on the data collected over the past two months, MLB believes otherwise, as evidence did not suggest a correlation between improved hitter safety and the use of foreign substances.
MLB shared that the hit-by-pitch ratio has increased to the highest mark of any season in the past 100 years.
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