Industry sources told ESPN that pitchers and fishermen will have the option of using newly tested signaling equipment while determining which pitches will be introduced in the upcoming regular season.
This technology could help advance Major League Baseball beyond the danger of the signal-stealing scandals that have plagued the sport in the past decade.
MLB is expected to give teams the green light for players to publish what is referred to within the industry as the PitchCom. Using a panel with buttons on the wrist of the gloved hand, the catcher can signal pitches — pitch type and location — directly to the bowler through a listening device.
Up to three teammates from the bowler and hunter will also have access to the cues, helping field players with positioning.
Change in baseball is often slowed by tradition, but the first reviews of the PitchCom system this spring were glowing, as players were concerned about how smoothly the electronic process of pitch cues is, aiding in the flow of shooters’ actions on the hill
“I think it was fantastic,” Severino told reporters. “I was a bit skeptical at first, but when we started using it, it was really good – with a guy in the second too. I’d definitely use it on my first start [of the regular season]. …You know what pitch you’re going to throw right away.”
Pitchers and anglers will continue to have the option to use the traditional method of pointing – fingers flickering with their fingers in a coded sequence to suggest pitch selection.
But it seems inevitable that PitchCom will see widespread use within the sport as players become more familiar with the technology, and due to ongoing concerns about signal theft by opponents.
Shooters and hunters have long been concerned about the theft of signs in the field by head coaches and coaches, but over the years, there have been cases of illegal sign theft.
In one of the most famous chapters in baseball history, the commissioner’s office determined that the 2017 World Championships champion Houston Astros used a signal-stealing system designed to locate hitters in real time through their bats, through the use of a television screen installed behind the Astros’ hideout.
The revelation resulted in the suspension and dismissal of general manager Jeff Lono and manager A.J. Hinch in January 2020, and the suspension of Alex Cora, who had been bench coach for the 2017 Astros. Cora managed the Boston Red Sox to win the 2018 World Championship, but resigned after being suspended; Boston reset him before the 2021 season.
Hinch is now the manager of the Detroit Tigers.
Carlos Beltran was a 2017 Astros player, and after his role in the Houston signal-stealing system was revealed, he resigned as manager of the New York Mets ahead of what was expected to be his first training in the spring in the role.
Beltran explained in an interview with YES Network that the Astros believed other teams were also guilty of signal theft, and that Houston wanted to effectively compensate for those efforts.
The Yankees, Red Sox and other teams have also been investigated by the MLB for signal theft violations. There is a warning that PitchCom technology could be hacked during a game, but as one executive recently said, the NFL has been successfully using signal technology for years, with quarterbacks wearing listening devices built into their helmets.
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