Major League Baseball is getting cleaner — literally — and the Giants want to ensure their hands also are clean.
Gabe Kapler was set to have a meeting with the team before Tuesday’s game against the Diamondbacks to address the announcement that pitchers, starting Monday, would be checked for foreign substances by umpires throughout games. Starting pitchers will have more than one mandatory check per game, and each relief pitcher will be looked at either at the conclusion of the inning he entered or when he is removed from the game.
Some pitchers have taken an unwritten rule of allowing rosin to be mixed with, say, sunscreen that enables a better grip and used technology and advancements to harness the best substances to grip balls, which increase spin rates and make pitches, well, nastier.
The Giants’ revolutions per minute on pitches has dropped this month, as has the league’s, since the announcements that the crackdown was coming. Kapler said the Giants have had meetings along the way but another was coming.
“It’ll be short and to the point because there’s not all that much to share. But you should certainly have those conversations,” the manager said before the game at Oracle Park.
There already has been pushback elsewhere. Tampa’s Tyler Glasnow blamed a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament and a flexor tendon strain on the lack of substances, having quit cold turkey. The star righty told reporters he always used sunscreen with rosin, which most hitters will tell you is fine with them to ensure basic grips, but stopped to prepare for the severe measures the league was taking. Only rosin will be allowed beginning Monday.
He went sunscreen-less in a start Monday and then hurt his arm.
“I trust that our pitchers are very good at making adjustments,” Kapler said, presented with Glasnow’s case.
Offense has ticked up around the league this month with the league less sticky, as pitchers who have used the more scientific methods to increase spin rates have needed to ease back. The entire Giants team would be at the meeting, Kapler said, rather than just pitchers.
Darin Ruf, currently out with a hamstring issue, first saw major league pitching in 2012, with the Phillies. He’s noticed a difference since then.
“You just look at a slider or heater that has that extra carry that you maybe had squared up at some point, and you’re fouling it off or swinging and missing,” Ruf said. “Or a slider that has extra slide at the end that would have been in the zone and wasn’t in the end.
“Against guys that have that good of stuff to do that in the first place, you’re just battling — you’re choking up if you have to.”
If pitchers (or position players) are found with a foreign substance, they would face a 10-game suspension.
Since June 3, when word of the crackdown leaked out from an owners’ meeting, the Giants’ average spin rate is 2,079. Previously, it had been 2,145, according to Baseball Savant. The dip is notable if not extreme.
“We have the mindset that we are going to be really good under the current construction of the rules,” Kapler said. “So I trust that our players will be able to do that just fine.”