ATLANTA -- Chipper Jones understands why MLB will begin enhancing enforcement of its rules against pitchers applying foreign substances to baseballs.
“People always used rosin and a little bit of spit,” Jones said. “That should be enough to give you enough of a grip to be able to control the baseball. But I think we’re all seeing the ball do some things we’re not used to. When you up the spin rates on both the fastballs and the breaking balls, all it’s going to do is crazy stuff.
“But baseball is making the adjustment to get everyone back on an even playing field. Pitchers are going to have to abide by the rules and suffer the consequences.”
MLB has provided guidelines to all 30 clubs and umpires to serve as “a uniform standard for the consistent application of the rules, including regular checks of all pitchers regardless of whether an opposing club’s manager makes a request.”
Beginning Monday, any pitcher found to possess or apply foreign substances in violation of the rules will be ejected from the game and automatically suspended in accordance with the rules and past precedence, which has been the issuance of a 10-game suspension.
Starting pitchers will be checked multiple times by the umpires and relievers will be checked at the end of an inning or when they are removed.
“They are obviously serious about what they are doing,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “It will affect a club that is suspended. If you can’t replace them and they are gone for that long, that’s a big deal.”
As spin rates have increased over the past few years, Jones didn’t immediately associate the rise with the use of foreign substances beyond rosin, sunscreen and other popular applications knowingly used in the past.
“I just figured you know, players are bigger, faster, stronger now and that is how it has been with baseball throughout the years,” Jones said. “You know, people of the generation before me were probably amazed at what they saw when I was playing. I've been out nine years and yeah, the amount of 98-102 mph fastballs and 92 mph sliders that are unhittable ... You’ve got guys who are throwing 100 and their fastball is moving and sinking and tailing a foot, I don’t know [if] that, that’s supposed to happen. It makes hitting a lot more difficult now than it was back then.”
So does Jones believe players will be affected by this crackdown?
“Any time there is competitive advantage, somebody is going to bite off more than they can chew,” Jones said.