MLB inspects Jacob deGrom in first instance of foreign substance crackdown

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Umps inspect deGrom in first instance of foreign substance crackdown originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

Major League Baseball’s new foreign substance policy has turned the league on its head over the past few weeks.

The league released a memo last week informing teams that any player caught using any foreign substance would be suspended for 10 games with pay. ‘Sticky substances’ in particular are used heavily by pitchers, enabling them to grip the baseball with greater ease. Monday, the new policy reportedly took effect with umps in the Big Apple already cracking down.

New York Mets superstar pitcher Jacob deGrom was one of the first players inspected for foreign substances during an NL East battle with Atlanta on Monday night. Field officials gathered around the two-time Cy Young Award winner as the team headed toward the dugout in the middle of the first inning. They inspected his glove, belt and hat.

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deGrom was a good sport as he passed his inspection, obliging all the umpires’ directions and heading to the dugout with a smile. Some other pitchers around the majors, though, have not been as welcoming of the new policy.

Tampa Bay Rays’ standout Tyler Glasnow, who was an early-season favorite for the Cy Young this year, suffered a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament and a flexor tendon strain last week. When asked by reporters, Glasnow said he unequivocally believes the MLB’s sticky substance policy led to his injury.

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Two days later, Yankees’ ace Gerrit Cole spoke with the media and expressed similar concerns.

“It’s hard to grip the ball. It’s part of the reason every player on the field has something, regardless if they are a pitcher or not, to help them control the ball,” Cole said. “I would just hate to see players get hurt. I would hate to see balls flying at people’s heads. I had a very tough time gripping the baseball tonight, especially early when it was windy.”

Though the league’s new policy does not solely affect pitchers, that position is predominantly threatened by the new rule. National Ryan Zimmerman chimed in as well.

“You also have the people that take it to another level and try and push the limits. Then when you get the guys that use the crazy stuff, the spider tack or whatever the hell it’s called, they make their own stuff or combine a couple things, those guys are for sure getting a competitive advantage,” Zimmerman said.

Players will have to get accustomed to routine checks by umpires. Jacob deGrom is sure to be the first case of these checks taking place, but by season’s end, it would not be surprising if an inspection was more common.

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