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Pitchers to be suspended 10 games for tampering with MLB balls

Pitchers to be suspended 10 games for tampering with MLB balls

Pitchers will be expelled and receive 10-game suspensions if they use illegal substances to manipulate the balls, as part of a major league enforcement rule beginning June 21.

The commissioner’s office, in response to a record spike in strikeouts and the worst offensive records in more than half a century, announced Tuesday that umpires in both the majors and the minor leagues will begin to monitor all pitchers frequently. even if the rival manager doesn’t ask for an inspection.

Although the suspensions will affect the pay of those involved, those who commit repeated infractions will face staggered punishments, and the teams and their employees may be sanctioned if they do not comply with the regulations.

“After a period of repeated warnings of no effect, gathering information from active and retired players across the sport, two months of exhaustive research, I have determined that new controls on the use of foreign substances are needed to have fair competition.” Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement.

The perception of increased substance use, linked to a decrease in offense, has been considered the most comprehensive act of cheating in baseball since the steroid era, and that led to the approval of a test and drug regimen. sanctions prior to the 2004 campaign.

Executive Vice President of Operations Morgan Sword; MLB senior vice president for field operations Mike Hill and adviser Theo Epstein outlined increased oversight on the balls issue Tuesday during a 15-minute meeting with all 30 drivers.

Hill sent a five-page memorandum with attached three-page Q&A to owners, CEOs, team presidents, general managers, drivers, and all major and little league players.

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“Unfortunately, the increased oversight we put in place at the start of the season did not result in the behavior of many pitchers. The information we gathered in the first two months of the season shows that foreign substance use by pitchers is more prevalent than we had anticipated, ”Hill wrote in the memo, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press. .

Tampa Bay pitcher Tyler Glasnow, who was diagnosed Tuesday with a partial tear in an elbow ligament, attributed his injury to adjusting to the rules before his start-up.

“Being told to do something totally different in the middle of the season is crazy. It’s ridiculous. There should be a certain exchange here, ”he noted.

“You should not remove everything without adding something. Pitchers need to have some control or some hold of the ball … I don’t want a fastball to go the other way and hit someone in the face as it has already happened, “he said.

Manfred noted that the use of someone else’s substances has changed.

“I understand that there is a history of using foreign substances for ball handling, but what we are seeing today is very different, using substances with greater adherence than what was used more frequently previously,” added Manfred.

The last pitchers to be suspended for foreign substances were Brian Matusz (Baltimore) and Will Smith (Milwaukee), eight games each in May 2015. Both appealed, and Smith’s penalty was reduced to six games and Matusz’s was upheld. .

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Yankees ace Gerrit Cole, singled out by Minnesota’s Josh Donaldson for slowing his pitching motion in a June 3 start, dodged answering whether he previously used Spider Tack, a sticky substance.

“I couldn’t answer that question,” Cole said. “There are customs and practices that have passed from veteran players to new ones and I think that certain things are out of bounds.”

Glasnow said he had used sunscreen and rosin, but changed before his June 8 opening with Washington. He varied his grip for his fast and curve balls to compensate for the slippery balls and was able to grip them more firmly and deeply.

“I stopped abruptly and nothing,” he admitted. “I woke up the next day and said, places I didn’t think I had muscles hurt. I felt completely different ”.

He concluded: “I believe 100% that this contributed to my injury. Undoubtedly”.

MLB informed the teams that since March 23 it will redouble its monitoring and that it has taken measures that include reviewing the balls used by each club and analyzing the data on the movement of the pitches.

Recent MLB investigation, according to its statement, detected balls with darker markings and that were stickier when touched.

MLB’s measures have not been slow to have an apparent impact.

According to data from Statcast, MLB’s statistical service, pitchers’ fastballs averaged between 2,306 and 2,329 revolutions per minute each week from the start of the season through June 5.

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After a meeting of the club owners on June 3, when it was aired that they were going to have a strong hand against substance use, the average fell to 2,282 during the week of June 6 and 2,226 on the last Sunday.

The batting average in the majors was .232 at the end of April, plummeting from .252 two years ago, and below the low of .237 set in 1968. It was .236 in May, also the worst record since 1968.

The percentage climbed to .247 in the week of June 6, bringing the season average to .238.

As for strikeouts, the percentage since June 3 fell 23.4% compared to 24.2% until then.

“This is not responding to a particular player or club, or finding culprits,” Manfred said. “It is a collective turnaround that had changed the sport and that deserved a response.”

Although Bill Miller, the president of the major league umpires association, was quoted in the ad as speaking in favor of the measures.

Players Association President Tony Clark, a former first baseman, said the union is in talks on the matter with players and the MLB.

“The question is whether the resin is sufficient or should we consider approved alternatives,” Clark said. “This question has become more important due to the changes and the lack of consistency in baseball in recent years.”

Players suspended for violations will not be replaced on the active roster.

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