Pitchers and catchers will have the option of using newly tested signaling devices as they decide which pitches to throw in the upcoming regular season, industry sources told ESPN.
This technology could help Major League Baseball move beyond the risk of the sign-stealing scandals that have plagued the sport in the last decade.
Sources told ESPN that MLB sent out a memo Tuesday advising teams on the approved use of devices called PitchCom in the industry. Using a button pad on the wrist of the gloved hand, a catcher can signal pitches (pitch type and location) directly to the pitcher through a listening device.
Up to three teammates of the pitcher and catcher will also have access to cues, helping fielders position themselves.
Change in baseball is often held back by tradition, but the first reviews of the PitchCom system this spring have been enthusiastic, with players raving about how seamless the electronic pitch signaling process has been, helping with the flow of pitchers and their actions on the mound
New York Yankees pitcher Luis Severino and catcher Kyle Higashioka used the PitchCom system in a game on Saturday.
“I think it was great,” Severino told reporters. “I was a bit hesitant at first, but when we started using it, it was really good, with a man on second as well. I would definitely like to use it on my first start. [de la temporada regular]”. You know what pitch you’re going to throw right away.”
Pitchers and catchers will still have the option to use the traditional signaling method: catchers will display the fingers of the throwing hand in coded sequences to suggest a pitching selection.
But it seems inevitable that PitchCom will see wide use within the sport as players become more familiar with the technology and due to ongoing concerns about signal theft by opponents.
Pitchers and catchers have long been concerned about sign-stealing on the field by running backs and coaches, but over the years there have been cases of illicit sign-stealing.
In one of the most notorious chapters in baseball history, the commissioner’s office decided that the 2017 World Series champion Houston Astros had used a sign-stealing system designed to identify upcoming pitches for batters in real time during their games. at-bats, through the use of a television monitor installed behind the Astros’ dugout.
The revelations resulted in the suspensions and firings of general manager Jeff Luhnow and manager AJ Hinch in January 2020, and the suspension of Alex Cora, who was the Astros’ bench coach from 2017. Cora led the Boston Red Sox to the title from the 2018 World Series, but resigned after he was suspended; Boston re-signed him before the 2021 season.
Hinch is now the manager of the Detroit Tigers.
Carlos Beltrán was a player for the 2017 Astros, and after his role in Houston’s sign-stealing system was revealed, he resigned as manager of the Astros. New York Mets ahead of what was expected to be his first spring training in that role.
Beltran explained in an interview with the YES Network that the Astros believed other teams were also guilty of stealing signs and that Houston wanted to compensate for those efforts effectively.
The Yankees, Red Sox and other teams were also investigated by MLB for sign-stealing violations. There is some caution about the possibility that PitchCom technology could be hacked during a game, but as one executive recently said, the NFL has used signaling technology successfully for years, with quarterbacks wearing listening devices built into their helmets. .
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Sources: MLB will allow use of anti-theft sign technology