MLB releases memo to enforce guidelines on foreign substances originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
Major League Baseball announced Tuesday its plan to suspend players caught with any foreign substance for 10 games, with pay.
In the memo distributed to teams, the new policy will begin on June 21. It will ban a sunscreen and rosin combination known as "Spider Tack," which has recently become popular for pitchers looking to generate more spin on the ball.
The 10-game ban is harsher than it seems: MLB's new policy states that pitchers are responsible even if it's their teammates who load up balls, and it also notes that teams won't be able to replace the suspended players.
Umpires will be expected to check for foreign substances between innings.
MLB Commissioner Robert Manfred said in the statement that the use of foreign substances to increase grip is "objectively far different, with much tackier substances being used more frequently than ever before."
"It has become clear that the use of foreign substances has generally morphed from trying to get a better grip on the ball into something else-- an unfair competitive advantage that is creative a lack of action and uneven playing field," Manfred said.
The use of foreign substances to affect a baseball's movement has been practiced for decades, but has come under more scrutiny recently.
St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Giovanny Gallegos was forced by umpire Joe West to remove his hat due to a substance in May, which led to manager Mike Shildt's ejection.
New York Yankees pitcher Gerrit Cole struggled to answer a question last week about whether he had ever doctored a baseball and New York Mets star Jacob deGrom and Los Angeles Dodgers Trevor Bauer were also accused by fans of cheating.
The MLB Players Association said in a statement shortly before the memo was issued that it will communicate with the players regarding the enforcement of the existing rules on foreign substances.
"We anticipate further discussions with the League regarding on field issues, including the foreign substance rules and the baseballs themselves, as part of ongoing collective bargaining," the statement read. "Our continued focus will remain on fundamental fairness and player health and safety."