Major League Baseball is trying to beef up enforcement of its rules that prohibit pitchers from using foreign substances on baseballs and that includes Trevor Bauer.
Multiple balls used by the Dodgers pitcher during his start against the Athletics on Monday were collected by umpires, according to The Athletic. They were sticky and with visible marks and sent to MLB to be examined.
If the findings are confirmed by the league, it remains uncertain MLB will be able to prove Bauer actually applied the foreign substance to the balls. A ball from Bauer was removed as early as the first inning, according to A’s radio announcer Vince Cotroneo. Bauer allowed two runs in 6 ²/₃ innings in that game.
MLB sent a memo to all of its teams on March 24, and it informed teams of new steps to enforce the ban. It included examining Statcast data looking for spin-rate changes from any pitchers suspected of using foreign substances. The inquiry into Bauer didn’t have to do with spin rate, but the balls themselves being brought to the umpires, according to The Athletic. Balls that are removed from play are taken from every game and sent to MLB for a further look.
Bauer shot down the idea he was being targeted by MLB in anyway.
“Lol always fun reading desperate and misleading clickbait headlines from national gossip bloggers,” Bauer wrote on Twitter late Thursday night. “To translate fake journalist speak for y’all, “It’s unclear whether” = “I can’t be bothered to look into this cuz it doesn’t fit my narrative.” (man shrugging emoji) wonder where the articles about balls from every other pitcher being taken out of play in literally every other game this season are?
“Also lol to @MLB who already has “sources” talking to gossip bloggers about a supposedly confidential process a week into the season (Face with tears of joy) thumbs up y’all keep killin it! ((Thumbs up emoji).”
NBC Bay Area reporter Jessica Kleinschmidt tweeted that it appears that the balls taken from Bauer were coincidental and that A’s manager Bob Melvin had not heard anything about it.
“This year they’re looking at baseballs to kind of take stock on maybe doing something uniform down the road as far as what substance could be used,” Melvin told reporters.
The 30-year-old Bauer, who signed a three-year, $102 million contract with the Dodgers this offseason, voiced his displeasure with the memo in a YouTube video the day after it was issued. Bauer’s spin rate did drastically improve during his Cy Young season in 2020.
“It’s only illegal for pitchers to have ‘foreign substance’ on their person, their body or whatever,” Bauer said in the video. “It’s not illegal for a catcher or his chest protector, as you’ve seen. It’s not illegal for a third baseman to have it on his glove or a center fielder to have it on his glove — so far as I know, maybe there’s a rule change or some language — as far as I know the rules of baseball, it is legal for those guys to have stuff on their glove.
“My question is, if I throw a pitch and it gets thrown out and then gets tested and has a foreign substance on it, how do they know it came from me and not from the catcher’s glove or the third baseman’s glove? Or on a foul ball, what if it happened to hit the handle of a bat where a hitter has pine tar or whatever other substance he wants, which is completely legal so long as it doesn’t [go] too far up the bat.”
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