After over a week of speculation, MLB announced Tuesday that beginning June 21, umpires will conduct checks for foreign substances such as pine tar or other pitch grip enhancers to enforce the rule against applying them to the baseball in games.
Offending players will be ejected from that game and automatically suspended for 10 more, and while that suspension is with pay, the team will have to play without that player for that 10-day stretch.
Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said that deterrent was plenty to get his club to fall in line.
“I think it’s really going to affect your club,” Hyde said. “It’s a stiff penalty, and to lose a player 10 days and lose a roster spot for 10 days is … Obviously, MLB is going to be very, very serious about this and taking action and we’re going to follow it. That’s a big deal to lose a player for 10 days.”
Hyde has withheld his own perspective on the issue, which has become one of the biggest talking points in the game, since MLB officials began making noise about beginning to enforce it as they say the increased spin rates around the game for pitchers have helped suppress the offensive environment and gone beyond the accepted use of helping pitchers command the ball to keep pitchers safe.
“Universally, around the league, this is something with pine tar and sunscreen, Bullfrog [sunscreen], this is something some guys have used for a long time,” Hyde said. “I think MLB just wants to make it a level playing field, and I’m all for making it a level playing field at this time.”
MLB’s enforcement will target both gluelike substances and the traditional combination of sunscreen and rosin, which is much milder, as if they’re the same.
The Orioles have had discussions in small groups and have “talked quite a bit with the staff,” Hyde said, but are going to have a larger team meeting tomorrow.
Since MLB began threatening action, the Orioles and baseball as a whole have seen their average four-seam fastball spin rate drop. MLB has, along with collecting baseballs from games for examination, also used Statcast data to monitor which pitchers may be using foreign substances.
Hyde said despite having several pitchers with high spin rates, he doesn’t expect the Orioles to have any of them targeted in that way.
Minor league trade
The Orioles continued stockpiling international talent from other clubs Tuesday, acquiring 19-year-old Dominican outfielder José Berroa from the Pittsburgh Pirates for minor league catcher Taylor Davis.
Berroa was assigned to the Florida Complex League, which begins later this month.
Around the horn
Hyde said left-hander John Means was at the team’s complex in Sarasota, Florida, “working back toward starting his progression” after being shut down with a shoulder injury earlier this month. Hyde said Means played catch Tuesday.