Pitchers and catchers will have the option of using newly tested signaling devices when deciding which pitches to throw next regular season, industry sources told ESPN.
This technology could help move Major League Baseball past the risk of the sign-stealing scandals that have plagued the sport for the past decade.
MLB should give teams the green light for players to deploy what is known in the industry as PitchCom. Using a pad with buttons on the wrist of the gloved hand, a catcher can report pitches—pitch type and location—directly to the pitcher via a listening device.
Up to three teammates of the pitcher and receiver will also have access to signals, helping defenders position themselves.
Change in baseball is often slowed by tradition, but early reviews of the PitchCom system this spring have been rave reviews, with players raving about how seamless the electronic pitch signaling process has been, helping the flow of actions pitchers in the field. mound
New York Yankees pitcher Luis Severino and catcher Kyle Higashioka used PitchCom in a game Saturday.
“I think it was great,” Severino told reporters. “I was a bit skeptical at first, but when we started using it it was really good – with a second man as well. I would really like to use it on my first start. [of the regular season]. …You know what pitch you’re going to pitch right away. “
Pitchers and catchers will continue to have the option of using the traditional method of signaling – catchers flashing the fingers of their throwing hand in coded sequences to suggest a pitch selection.
But it seems inevitable that PitchCom will see widespread use in the sport as players become more comfortable with the technology and due to ongoing concerns about panel theft by opponents.
Pitchers and catchers have long been concerned about infield sign theft by baserunners and coaches, but over the years there have been instances of illicit sign theft.
In one of the most notorious chapters in baseball history, the 2017 World Series champion Houston Astros were found by the commissioner’s office to have used a sign-stealing system designed to identify pitches at coming for batters in real time as they strike, through the use of a television screen set up behind the Astros’ dugout.
The revelations led to the suspensions and firings of general manager Jeff Luhnow and manager AJ Hinch in January 2020, and the suspension of Alex Cora, who was the bench coach for the 2017 Astros. Cora coached the Boston Red Sox until 2018 World Series title but resigned after being suspended; he was rehired by Boston ahead of the 2021 season.
Hinch is now the manager of the Detroit Tigers.
Carlos Beltran was a 2017 Astros player, and after his role in Houston’s sign-stealing scheme came to light, he quit as New York Mets manager ahead of what was to be his first spring training. in this role.
Beltran explained in an interview with the YES Network that the Astros believed other teams were also guilty of sign theft and that Houston wanted to effectively compensate for those efforts.
The Yankees, Red Sox and other teams have also been investigated by MLB for sign theft violations. There is concern that PitchCom technology could be hacked during a game, but as one executive recently stated, the NFL has successfully used signaling technology for years, with quarterbacks wearing listening devices. integrated into their helmets.