As offense is down for all teams in the season where Major League Baseball deadened the baseballs, commissioner Rob Manfred is trying to help hitters by focusing on a rule they have previously ignored when it comes to foreign substances.
It’s become no secret that MLB pitchers have been using means to get a better grip on baseballs to increase their spin rates and control. Because of this, MLB has been trying to prevent pitchers from breaking their previously unenforced rules on sticky substances.
Although MLB is expected to begin taking action if necessary, their preference is for pitchers to simply stop using products to enhance grip and spin rates, according to Buster Olney of ESPN:
MLB’s hope is that pitchers who use foreign substances like Spider Tack and homemade super glues will be scared straight by the public conversation and stop using them, sources said.
The sport’s powers, said one source, “do not want to find any violators of the foreign substance.”
There also is said to be hope that raising awareness of forthcoming penalties for use of banned substances and not yet enforcing the rule will help pitchers acclimate themselves:
Another league source said: “I’m glad you’re writing about this. [I’m] glad this is getting a lot of attention. It’d be great if we could get it cleaned up before they actually start enforcing the rule. The enforcement has not started yet because all parties involved want to give pitchers time to adjust.”
Said a third source: “Nobody wants to see suspensions. But it’s going to happen if somebody is found with something.”
Trevor Bauer has been critical of the league’s handling of pitchers using foreign substances for several years. After it was reported MLB would crackdown on the issue, Bauer pointed out he has been talking about this since 2018.
“There’s plenty of stuff out there if you want to go look and understand what’s going on in the game. I’ve talked about it a lot,” Bauer recently. “Again, we just want to compete on a fair playing field, so if you’re going to enforce it, then enforce it. And if not, then don’t. But don’t play the middle ground. Unfortunately, until things become public, nothing gets done at MLB.”
It remains to be seen how far MLB is willing to go to enforce these rules, but players across the league, such as Bauer and now L.A. Angels star Mike Trout, have been calling for a fair playing field. A possible outcome would be light enforcement for the rest of this season with an updated agreement with the Players Association during the next CBA talks.
Roberts worried if MLB enforces rule
Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts previously said he feels a midseason rule change could cause an increase in injuries to pitchers.
“Certain guys are used to a different feeling of the baseball,” Roberts said. “Anytime you change the consistency of a baseball at any point in time, it changes the feel and stress of an arm. Again, I’m no scientist. Like I’ve said many times before, things that are in place in the middle of a season are an adjustment.”
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