The Angels haven’t forgotten about the particularly slick baseballs they struggled with during their recent five-game series in Seattle. Their complaints apparently haven’t gone unnoticed by Major League Baseball.
MLB sent a memo to all 30 of its clubs stating one uniform rule on how balls, especially new ones, should be muddied and stored to help prevent them from being too slick, according to multiple reports.
“The baseballs need to be the same,” Angels pitcher Michael 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.
During the fifth inning of the Angels’ game against the Mariners on Friday night, Lorenzen hit former Angel Justin Upton in the head with a ball that he said slipped out of his hand.
He wasn’t the only one frustrated. The previous night, Angels reliever Ryan Tepera stopped during his eighth-inning appearance to examine the baseballs plate umpire David Arrieta had, tossing two to the side because he wasn’t comfortable with them.
“Obviously, there was a problem in Seattle with the balls and it’s just unacceptable,” 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 said slick baseballs are an injury risk for batters and pitchers — a slick baseball means needing to have a tighter grip. Tepera recalled that the day after his outing, his forearm felt even more sore than usual because of the slick balls.
“It’s one of those things that you don’t notice until it’s not good,” fellow Angels pitcher Patrick Sandoval said.
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 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.
All-Stars in the making
It was no surprise Tuesday when the preliminary All-Star Game vote counts showed Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani in the top two of their groups.
Trout, based on these early votes, is on track to get his 10th All-Star nod. As of Tuesday, he had 1,295,854 votes, coming in second among American League outfielders to New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge (1,512,368 votes).
Ohtani, meanwhile, is chasing the lead vote-getter among AL designated hitters, the Houston Astros’ Yordan Álvarez (835,669), with 555,056 votes.
“I think the world would love to see those guys play. … The All-Star Game is an honor,” Angels interim manager Phil Nevin said. “It’s an honor to go there every year, to be around your peers and know that your peers have a lot in the voting process as well.
“Ask Mike. Mike loves to go, and I’m sure he’ll play in center field in that game.”
Ohtani, the reigning AL most valuable player, received his first All-Star Game nod last season, as well as his first invite to the Home Run Derby.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.