With their early-evening start to a doubleheader at Citi Field, Jacob deGrom and the Mets were the first team to take the mound and toe the rubber under Major League Baseball’s foreign-substance crackdown that officially took effect on Monday.
While deGrom and his teammates were adamant last week that the two-time NL Cy Young Award winner used any sort of substances, though pitchers have spoken out since MLB’s memo circulated that they use substances for grip and control rather than getting an unfair edge in spin rates.
“We actually had different meetings last week with MLB and they were clear about reinforcing the rule of the foreign substances on the ball,” Rojas said Monday. “We relayed the message on how things will be starting today to the team and to the pitchers, especially, just so they know what to expect.
“There are going to be more checkups. It’s going to be a little different for everyone. They’re going to check different areas where they figure some of the substances have been put… just expect that and be stopped and checked. Past that, we’re going to go ahead and play our game.”
No time for groveling or complaining, just more of an acceptance that this is the new norm in Major League Baseball.
“Let them do what they need to do. Nothing more than that,” he said. “I”m curious to get through this. It’s happening one way or another, right? Let’s go ahead and see how it goes and we’ll have our say if we see something we don’t like.”
Rojas did admit that if a pitcher is egregiously breaking the new rules, he’ll say something. But it’s not something he is going to closely monitor at all times.
“I don’t know. I can’t say to yes, I can’t say to you no. When you’re in the game, you’re paying attention to so many different things as a manager or a coach so I can’t say,” Rojas said. “If it happens and I say it and it’s obvious, I’m going to say yes. But it’s not something I”m going to be thoroughly looking at starting tonight… I think we’re going to be the first team playing under this.”
The Mets skipper is more concerned about how it will impact the cadence of the game more than anything — especially considering the length of ballgames were apparently a major concern of MLB commissioner Rob Manfred.
“The flow of the game, the pace. I’m curious to see how it’s going to be handled,” he said. “I’m sure the umpires are going to be educated on this… the other thing is some usage of stuff that you have in day games. You may have sunscreen today in a 5 o’clock game. Just the balance there and the feel and the understanding.
“It’s been out there that the mixture of sunscreen and rosin creates a better grip… Just the balance there of what’s going to happen if some of that finds its way onto the ball, not just with rosin.”