MLB asks umpires for heightened sticky substance checks Jake Brentz gets $1.9M deal with Royals, recovering from surgery
NEW YORK. Major League Baseball is stepping up in-game checks by umpires on banned tackle assistants, concerned that the use of foreign substances by pitchers has increased again as time has passed since the June 2021 crackdown.
“Unfortunately, rotation rates have started picking up again in the 2022 season and we have received reports of continued use of foreign matter on the field,” MLB Senior Vice President of Field Operations Michael Hill wrote in a memo Thursday.
“Referees have been instructed to increase the frequency and volume of foreign matter checks this year, including spot checks on fingers (including the removal of rings worn on both hands by pitchers), hands, hats, gloves, belts/waistbands, and trousers.” Hill said. “Pitchers may be subject to checks before or after the innings in which they pitch, and managers may request checks on a pitcher or position player before or after at-bat.”
Hill sent out a memorandum to owners, CEOs, team presidents, general managers, field managers, and all major and minor league players. The memo was first reported on ESPN.
“Referees will also look out for suspicious player behavior that suggests the potential use of foreign substances,” Hill wrote. “For example, if the umpire watches a pitcher attempt to dry his hands prior to an inspection, the player could be immediately ejected for violating the rules while trying to hide the foreign substance.”
Rumors of reprisals appeared at a meeting of the owners on June 3, 2021, and on June 21, enhanced checks began. On June 2, four-seam fastballs averaged 2,319 rpm before dropping to 2,251 for the rest of the season before rising to 2,276 last year, according to Statcast. The average speed of four-seam fastballs has increased from 93.7 mph in 2021 to 93.9 mph last year.
Only two pitchers have been suspended since testing for foreign substances began. Hector Santiago of Seattle was fined on June 28, and of Arizona Caleb Smith that August 24, both 10 games.
“A player who possesses or uses foreign substances in violation of the rules of the game is subject to immediate ejection from the game and will be automatically suspended,” wrote Hill. “If a player other than the pitcher is found to have applied a foreign substance to a baseball (for example, a catcher applied a foreign substance to a baseball before throwing it back to the pitcher), both the position player and the pitcher will be ejected; however, positional players will not be ejected from the game for having a foreign substance on their glove or uniform, unless the referee determines that the player applied the substance to the ball to help the pitcher.”
MLB has threatened to be tougher on repeat offenders.
“Players who are found to have used a foreign substance after a previous disqualification for a rule violation will be subject to more severe and progressive disciplinary action for each subsequent violation,” Hill said.
Hill threatened “severe punishment” for club workers who help players use banned assistants.
“Clubs will be held liable for any foreign matter found on any club property (e.g. clubhouse, tunnel, dugout, bullpen, etc.),” he wrote. “Each club must inform its club managers and staff that they are required to report to the CEO any foreign matter found in the club building or other areas of the stadium. Note that the pitcher’s bag and bullpen bag were a frequent source identified by Gameday Compliance Monitors (“GCM”) as containing foreign matter.”
In an effort to create a more uniform ball environment, MLB has made humidors mandatory for ball storage since last season. Balls must be stored in them for at least 14 days, and Hill said the temperature should be set at 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees Celsius) with 57% humidity, except for 65% at the mile-high Coors Field. . The procedures for removing the marbles from the humidors and rubbing them with mud were standardized last June.
SURPRISE, Arizona – Lefty Jake Brentz and the Kansas City Royals signed a two-year, $1.9 million contract that will keep him with the team while he recovers from Tommy John surgery.
As part of the agreement, the 28-year-old will receive a salary of $850,000 this year and $1.05 million next year. He can earn an additional $300,000 per year in bonuses for completed games: $50,000 for every 25 and every additional 5-50 games.
Brentz could also earn $100,000 in roster bonuses in 2024 alone: $50,000 each for 90 and 120 days on an active major league roster.
He was 5–2 with a 3.66 ERA and two saves in 72 assist games as a rookie in 2021, hitting 76 of 64 innings. Brentz appeared in eight games in April, going 0-3 with a 23.63 ERA, but was listed as injured on April 30 with a flexor tendon strain in his left elbow.
Brentz made two appearances in minor league injury rehabilitation at the Northwest Arkansas Double-A Tournament on June 19 and 22, and on July 21, the Royals announced that he had undergone reconstructive elbow surgery to repair his ulnar collateral ligament.
Kansas City nominated him for appointment on November 15, and Brentz was elected a free agent three days later.