The Los Angeles Angels are one of many teams around Major League Baseball having an issue with how the league is enforcing its new rules to prepare baseballs for game use.
On June 17 in Seattle, Angels starter Michael Lorenzen narrowly missed hitting Justin Upton in the head with a ball that got away from him. Angels’ pitchers during that road series were concerned with the handling of the baseballs and their concern proved to be correct not only during but following those games.
MLB sent out a memo to all 30 clubs on June 21 stating the step-by-step process to ensure the integrity and uniform state of all baseballs, and Angels pitchers were happy with the response from the league, but still outspoken on the ongoing issue, via Sarah Valenzuela of the L.A. Times:
“The baseballs need to be the same,” Lorenzen said before the team’s game against the Kansas City Royals on Tuesday night at Angel Stadium. “We can’t get a baseball and be caught off guard with how it feels. It shouldn’t be that way, and it seems to happen quite a bit. I’m glad they’re doing something.
“For me, it’s just a shame that it takes someone getting hit in the head for them to come out with a memo like that,” the right-hander said after being told about the memo without having read it for himself.”
MLB has expanded its use of a humidor throughout the league in all ballparks that are meant to add continuity, consistent results and feel to game-used baseballs. But so far, that has not proved to be enough:
“Obviously, there was a problem in Seattle with the balls and it’s just unacceptable,” Angels reliever Ryan Tepera said after being told about the memo. “They were pearls. They were brand new balls out of a dozen. There was no mud on them at all.
“We, as pitchers, throw baseballs every single day. So we know what a good ball feels like, and those balls were not anywhere up to par.”
Tepera tossed away multiple baseballs during his appearance in the eighth inning on June 16 after realizing the baseballs didn’t feel anywhere to how they should be. MLB is working to address the issues with strong rules around how the balls are prepared:
MLB has been working on a standard procedure for mud application and storing baseballs out of humidors since its sticky substance crackdown of last season — which resulted in an increase in the number of complaints over slick baseballs and pitchers struggling with their grips — according to the Associated Press.
The reason for these changes began after MLB banned sticky substances from use and pitchers had to conform to the new rules and league-approved substances. Some pitchers also claimed the sticky substance ban forced them to grip the ball differently and caused injuries to them.
MLB has been developing baseballs with a grip substance pre-applied to them, but it’s unclear what the progress of them is.
Details of league memo on baseballs
MLB’s memo to teams requires that all mud used to dirty up the baseballs be the same and in a similar time frame:
The memo, according to the Athletic, states that applying the special mud, which comes from the Delaware River, should: be done by hand “in a uniform manner ensuring the same mud to water ratio is applied to each ball”; take at least 30 seconds to apply per baseball to make sure it sticks to the leather; and be done on the same day the balls will be used and within three hours of the other baseballs being muddied for a game that day.
It remains to be seen how much the rules will make a difference, but it’s a positive sign MLB has somewhat listened to the players.
Make sure to follow Angels Nation on Twitter for all the latest news and updates surrounding the Halos!