Major League Baseball is cracking down on the sticky stuff.
MLB announced a new guidance Tuesday prohibiting the use of foreign substances on baseballs, a rule that will go into effect Monday. Suspensions under Rule 3.01 are 10 games and repeat offenders will be subject to progressive discipline.
“I think this is one of those topics right now that is loud,” manager Alex Cora said before the Sox’ two-game series in Atlanta. “Everybody’s talking about it, but hopefully, after a week or two weeks we can only talk about the game.”
Cora said he had a meeting with Mike Hill, who is MLB’s senior vice president of on-field operations, and Theo Epstein, who serves as an MLB consultant. Pitchers are also prohibited from using sunscreen as a way to get grip. Hill explained to managers that there is no gray area.
Cora said he was surprised by some of the rules, but also acknowledged that the league has the information needed in order to make such a decision.
“This is something that obviously, we know, that has been going on for a while,” Cora said. “But for them to do it this way, they were very clear. You know that? Understanding that, we got to keep moving forward. And if guys have to make adjustments throughout the league, they will make adjustments.”
Cora knows what it feels like to be out of baseball. After serving a one-year suspension as a result of his involvement in the Astros’ cheating scandal, he understands that the rules are what they are, and there is no sense in trying to bend them.
“I’ll be open about it: I come from a suspension,” Cora said. “And I know how embarrassing that is and how tough that is, not only on you as a person, but your family, your friends, and the people that love you. Ten games, a year, two years, three years — it doesn’t matter. Being suspended is hell and you don’t want to go through that.”
Welcome home, Garrett
Garrett Whitlock is back home. The Georgia native grew up a Braves fan. Whenever Chipper Jones or Javy Lopez hit a home run, he would run around his living room. On Tuesday, he had a chance to pitch at Atlanta’s Truist Park.
“It’s really cool,” Whitlock said before the Sox’ 10-8 win. “I have a lot of family here. I have a lot of friends coming back. I grew up going to Turner Field all the time. So it’s a dream come true to be able to play on this field and everything so it’s quite a remarkable day for me.”
Whitlock tossed a scoreless fifth inning. In the sixth, Whitlock recorded his first major league hit with a single to left. In the bottom of the frame, however, Whitlock ran into some trouble and didn’t get much help from his defense. The inning included a Kiké Hernández error on what possibly could have been a double play following a Whitlock walk to Abraham Almonte. It led to three Braves runs, one of which was earned.
With a 1.95 ERA in 32⅔ innings, he’s become a key part of the Red Sox bullpen. Cora raved about his reliever and had hoped to get him into a game in front of his family and friends.
“He’s just a perfect citizen,” Cora said. “It’s cool that he’s here playing against the Braves. Hopefully he can have a blast out there. It seems like he keeps getting better. He keeps working on his craft, adding pitches, using his fastball in certain spots. He’s been great.”
Whitlock’s first career single, Cora said afterward, was a fun moment to watch and how in this short period of time he’s been in the big leagues, his reliever has had a flair for the dramatic.
“He’s done an amazing job,” Cora said. “His first win in Yankee Stadium, and then he came here. We gave him the bunt, and it didn’t look good. I was like, ‘You know what, just let him swing, just in case. I don’t want him to bunt and [then if] he gets hit [by a pitch] and we lose him.”
Benintendi on the mend
Former Red Sox outfielder Andrew Benintendi was put on the IL by the Royals with a rib cage fracture, so he won’t face the Red Sox this weekend in Kansas City . . . Red Sox lefthander Chris Sale threw an up-and-down session at Worcester’s Polar Park. He threw 25 pitches his first time around and then 10. “He keeps feeling better,” Cora said. “And the thing about being a big leaguer is very important to him and little by little he’s becoming a big leaguer, again.” . . . Rays starter Tyler Glasnow went on the injured list with a partially torn UCL and flexor strain. “This is one of the best pitchers in the big leagues,” Cora said. “What he’s done is incredible. So, obviously, it’s a big hit for them. But, obviously, for the game.” The Red Sox will play three in Tampa next week.