MLB to Crack Down on Foreign Substance Use Even Harder This Year
When MLB decided to crack down on the use of foreign substances last season, it was met with plenty of backlash. Pitchers worried that the adjustment from using something to help grip the ball to using nothing would be a big issue. There were also questions about how that would change the long-term health of arms, especially since pitchers felt like they needed to grip the balls differently.
But despite that backlash, MLB is going hard into the crackdown again this year. Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated reported this week that the league sent a memo to teams to let them know the substance checks would become more rigorous this year.
Starting this weekend, MLB umpires will start to check the hands of pitchers at Spring Training games. Starting pitchers will be checked between random innings and relief pitchers are required to be checked at least once during their appearance or after.
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The crackdown from MLB is supposedly in response to concerns that pitchers were hiding foreign substances in new places. Verducci suggests that pitchers started to get level with it and hie in places other than their hat, belt, and glove. Those were the main things checked by umpires last year.
There have been rumors that MLB will introduce pre-tacked baseballs in hopes of getting rid of these checks altogether. At this point, that would be the most ideal situation for pitchers rather than constantly being checked.
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