Monday, May 23, 2022

MLB to allow electronic pitch-signaling devices in 2022 season to prevent sign-stealing, per report

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Major League Baseball is likely to permit pitchers and catchers to relay signals via electronic devices during the 2022 season, Buster Olney of ESPN reports. Use of the devices to coordinate pitch selection between pitcher and catcher would make it all but impossible for opposing teams to steal signals, which has been an issue of increasing concern since the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal came to light.

The system, developed by PitchCom, was used at times during 2022 spring training and was tested in the California League during the 2021 season. PitchCom works by allowing players to exchange signals using a minimal amount of technology: a transmitter with buttons the catcher wears on his wrist and receivers that can be tucked inside the hats of pitchers and middle infielders (to allow for defensive positioning tweaks). 

As Jeff Passan notes on Twitter, some executives believe that use of the signaling devices will also improve pace of play. 

“I think it was great,” Yankees pitcher Luis Severino told reporters after using the device for the first time on Saturday. “I was a little doubtful at the beginning, but when we started using it, it was really good — with a man on second, too. I would definitely like to use it in my first start [of the regular season]. … You know what pitch you’re going to throw right away.”

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Per Olney, use of the technology will not be mandatory, and pitchers and catchers will still be free to signal pitches by traditional means if they prefer to do so. 

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