Amid growing outrage surrounding the rampant use of foreign substance used by pitchers to manipulate the baseball, Major League Baseball is reportedly close to finalizing enhanced rules regarding the issue, which could start being enforced later this month.
Pitchers will reportedly be randomly and repeatedly checked by umpires, according to ESPN's Buster Olney, and the plan may be implemented within the next 10 to 14 days. Starting pitchers will be checked at least twice per start, with roughly eight to 10 random checks per game.
The issue was discussed this week at owners' meetings, where evidence was presented in the form of baseballs, gloves and hats that had various substances on them. The plans will enforce already existing rules against using foreign substances that have long been ignored by players, coaches and umpires.
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Discussion around penalties for violating the rules have centered around a 10-day suspension without pay for pitchers, though that could prompt a grievance filed by the Players Association. Position players using foreign substances, though not as common, could be simply issued warnings before any more formal punishment.
Currently, rules exist that prevent players from using foreign substances to doctor the baseball. But a sort of "gentlemen's agreement" has developed throughout the game whereby umpires will only enforce the rule if requested to do so by a manager. Managers have been reluctant to take this step, as it could result in their own players who use foreign substances also being reprimanded.
A memo could be sent to teams as soon as this week, and league-wide enforcement could begin as early as June 14.
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