Sources: MLB puts finishing touches on memo foreign substances

Major League Baseball is putting the finishing touches on a memo that will detail the sport’s rule against foreign substances, with the expectation among some sources that the document will be sent to teams sometime in the next few days and presented to the body. coach and players, sources said.

The actual order to the referees to enforce the rule could come a week later, around June 21, according to the sources. But the protracted display and source-driven discussion about cracking down on foreign substances has been by design, to some extent. MLB’s hope is that pitchers using foreign substances like Spider Tack and homemade glues will be directly spooked by the public conversation and stop using them, sources said.

The powers of the sport, said a source, “do not want to find any offender of the foreign substance.”

Another league source said: “Glad you’re writing about this. Glad it’s getting a lot of attention. It would be great if we could clean it up before they actually start enforcing the rule.

“Enforcement of the rules has not yet started because all parties involved want pitchers to have time to adjust.”

Said a third source: “Nobody wants to see suspensions. But it will happen if someone is found with something.”

According to sources, the foreign substance checks will be designed to function as a DUI (drunk driving) checkpoint, with built-in randomness to reduce the potential comfort level of any pitcher with the idea of ​​violating the rule or enforcing substances after being checked during a game. There could be something in the range of eight to 10 controls per game, and the umpires could stop each starting pitcher perhaps a couple of times per game. Position players will also be monitored for substances that can be transported to the pitcher on the mound for use, perhaps by rubbing a baseball against the pant leg or belt.

MLB recognizes that foreign substance controls can slow down the game, so umpires can be advised to do much of this new business when pitchers leave the mound after an inning or out, essentially during commercial breaks.

The current foreign substance rule has been in the book for decades, but baseball has functioned effectively with an unspoken agreement among managers, players, and teams not to ask umpires to check pitchers because substance use was widespread and accepted as an operating procedure. More benign substances like sunscreen and pine resin have been used by thousands of pitchers in professional baseball, and pitchers rub shiny substances on their gloves or the forearm of their gloved hand outdoors. Some hitters have talked over the years of preferring that opposing pitchers use them for better control, to reduce the chance of hitting.

But as pitchers have learned to increase the speed of the spinning effect on their pitches in recent years, some presumably through the use of sharper substances like Spider Tack, pitching has become increasingly dominant within the game. And this year, hitters are getting hit at a record pace.

When the umpires start to enforce, players will face possible suspension if they come across anything from sunscreen to pine resin and some of the newer substances. The only legal substance currently is rosin, in the pitcher’s hand.

Position players have been driving a lot of the midseason change, which is unusual in the majors. Josh donaldson has been one of the most outspoken about the competitive advantage foreign substances can give a pitcher, but Giancarlo stanton and others have intervened, and even some pitchers, such as Alex Cobb Angels, have supported the changes, either publicly or privately.

“It’s like the age of steroids,” Cobb told reporters. “Everyone else was using, and if you’re not, you’re living ethically, but you won’t be in this game for long. I’m glad guys don’t have to be put in that position.”

The working relationship between the players’ association and the Major Leagues has been strained in recent months before the expiration of the current collective bargaining agreement in December, the inherent mistrust reflected in recent comments from Pete alonso, who said it is a “fact” that MLB has changed the composition of the ball to affect free agent markets.

A few weeks ago, Major League Baseball and the union leadership spoke through a presentation about the growing problem of pitchers using foreign substances as weapons. But recently, sources say, there has been little direct contact between MLB and the Players Association; in fact, communication has been made through the arbitrators’ union, similar to how separated spouses speak through a mutual friend.