Josh Johnson learned the hard way about some new baseball rules that went into effect Tuesday. To his surprise, he was called for two balks in the first inning against the Braves in Orlando.
The new rule: When he’s not standing on the mound, a pitcher who goes to his mouth must wipe off his hand before rubbing down the ball. Johnson did it the old way, which allowed a pitcher to avoid having to wipe off his hand after going to his mouth.
"I had to ask (umpire) Joe (West) what was going on," said bench coach Carlos Tosca, who managed the game. "He told me they got some kind of memo last night, last. I said, ‘Well we didn’t get a memo."’
Both Johnson and Tosca have no problem with the new rule. They just wish someone would have told them before the game started.
I guess, now we know. Thankfully, the new rule was implemented in Spring Training thus making learning the hard way not all that costly. But it would be nice if MLB would have let's know about this before hand. But then again, it probably wouldn't have changed things. I imagine we will have a bunch of pitchers trying to get use to doing a new prep routine. Don't be surprised if early in the season they fall back into old habits every now and then. Old habits are hard to break, but they will, eventually.