McCoy: Reds manager favors MLB crackdown on doctoring baseballs

Pitchers, position players could face 10-game suspension

When the Cincinnati Reds open a two-game series Monday in Minnesota, the pitchers best be wary, especially if they are applying a foreign substance on the baseballs.

Starting Monday, major league umpires have been instructed to make random checks on pitchers to make certain they are using clean baseballs.

MLB is clamping down on pitchers who apply tacky stuff to the baseballs so they can get better grips and make the balls spin at a greater rate.

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Pitchers and even position players caught rubbing anything into the baseball will immediately be ejected, then suspended for 10 games.

The league has performed studies that reveal that spin rates on pitches have dramatically spiked this year. It enables pitchers to make baseballs dart and dance as never before.

Reds manager David Bell is on board with the decision.

“Somewhere along the line, pitchers began pitching with foreign substances and somewhere along the line it became an accepted practice in the game,” Bell said.

“This is a step in the right direction to enforce the rules that are in the rulebook,” he added. “Those rules were there in the first place for a reason.

“I realize it will be a process to get there, but what it will do eventually is make it more clear for everyone.”

Anybody who reads the rulebook knows that it is as clear as bottled water that is against the rules to doctor a baseball in any way. But it hasn’t been enforced and pitchers, always seeking an advantage, have pushed it too far and have been blatant about it.

“This will make sure we all follow the same rules,” Bell said. “As difficult as the process is going to be, I think in the end it will be much better for the game because it will be clearer. It will keep it even and fair.”

It is no secret that the Reds are full of pitchers who have increased their spin rate this season, but Bell wouldn’t be trapped into revealing anything.

“All I know is that at some point it did become an accepted part of the league for different teams,” he said. “It is not something I see or anything I paid attention to because it was an accepted part of the game. Obviously, that’s changing now and all teams are going to have to change if they have pitchers that were, in fact, employing foreign substances.”

One of the reasons pitchers like to give for ‘cheating’ is to get a better grip for better control, so they aren’t hitting batters with pitches.

Bell quickly discounted that.

“One point that has been made this year, clearly through the research, is that pitchers are using foreign substances but hit by pitches are up, I believe, at an all-time high. So that kind of works against that theory.”

With umpires instructed to make random checks, it could make matters a bit tense for pitchers and managers to adapt to the process and to clean up their acts.

“Right now, I can’t visualize or feel what this is going to look like,” said Bell. “It is being made very clear what the rules are and very clear what the discipline is.

“The consequences (suspension) is very significant,” he added. “It has to be taken very seriously by every player and every team. It could really affect a player’s career and definitely affect a team not being able to replace a pitcher on the roster. It is now just a matter of everybody following the rules.”