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A player and coach's journey from chemotherapy to HR Derby

A player and coach's journey from chemotherapy to HR Derby

There was only one person Rangers All-Star slugger Joey Gallo wanted to throw to him during the Home Run DerbyBy STEPHEN HAWKINS AP Baseball WriterJuly 10, 2021, 6:13 PM• 4 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleARLINGTON, Texas — Texas Rangers All-Star slugger Joey Gallo has never forgotten that day he spent during spring training five years ago with Tony Beasley — a nearly four-hour chemotherapy session to treat the coach’s cancer.When Gallo steps into the box for the Home Run Derby in Denver on Monday night, Beasley will be throwing to him — as the third base coach has in batting practice before Rangers games throughout the 27-year-old slugger’s big league career.“What he’s been through and what he’s overcame, the story should be more about him, honestly, than me,” said Gallo, now in his fifth full season. “And I want to give him some recognition.”Beasley has been cancer free since December 2016, after the nearly yearlong bout with rectal cancer that included multiple rounds of extensive chemotherapy during spring training and later during that season. Between treatments that year, the deeply faithful Beasley remained upbeat and was around the team as much as he could.While Beasley had planned to spend next week’s break at home in Virginia, the former minor league All-Star infielder who never played in the majors couldn’t turn down Gallo.“He was relieved, but it made me feel good that I felt like I was his only choice,” Beasley said. “And he went back to 2016 when we spent time together in chemotherapy and that type of stuff, he felt like that would be a good opportunity to shed light on cancer and the possibility of inspiring people.“That was still fresh on his mind, that wasn’t kind of where I was thinking,” the coach said. “But he was really serious about that avenue, and so that meant a lot to me to know that that’s where his heart was at.”Gallo had played only 36 major league games the previous season, striking out in more than half of his at-bats between a handful of big home runs in his big league debut, and would spend most of 2016 at Triple-A.But he was in camp that spring and accepted an invitation to accompany Beasley to a chemotherapy session. The Rangers hoped that trip would provide the young slugger some perspective as he tried to cope with on-field struggles and growing expectations.And it certainly did.Gallo, now a second-time All-Star and a Gold Glove-winning right fielder, said this week that his perspective on life changed by watching how Beasley handled that day, and the entire bout with cancer.Beasley said he has seen tremendous growth in Gallo, from that 21-year-old kid in 2015 who didn’t believe how good he really was.“I’ve seen him gradually embrace his talent on the baseball field and grow as an individual, as a man,” Beasley said. “I’ve seen him really mature on the baseball field. … I’ve seen him go from boy to man over the course of 6 1/2 years.”Gallo was also an All-Star in 2019, and there was talk about him being in the Home Run Derby then, but he was coming off an oblique strain and didn’t want to risk hurting himself again. But he did go deep on the only pitch he saw in the game.Before going homerless Friday night, when he did have two more walks to increase his MLB-leading total to 69, Gallo had been the first Rangers player ever with 10 homers in a 10-game stretch. He had 23 overall.Beasley is in his seventh season as the Rangers’ third base coach. He was the first assistant hired by previous manager Jeff Bannister and was retained when Chris Woodward, fresh off two World Series appearances as third base coach with the Los Angeles Dodgers, became the Texas manager after the 2018 season.“This guy is a special human being, the way he just communicates with people, not just players, but just the positive light that he brings every day,” Woodward said. “That ability to relate goes a long way, especially with players. … It’s hard to develop trust with everybody, and this guy does it on a daily basis. And it’s genuine, it’s real.”———More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports

Tigers overcome Gallo's 2 homers to top Rangers 5-3

Tigers overcome Gallo's 2 homers to top Rangers 5-3

The Detroit Tigers didn’t let Texas starter Kyle Gibson go to his first All-Star game without a lossBy STEPHEN HAWKINS AP Baseball WriterJuly 7, 2021, 9:36 PM• 4 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleARLINGTON, Texas — Miguel Cabrera had a go-ahead RBI infield single as a pinch-hitter for Detroit right after previously unbeaten All-Star pitcher Kyle Gibson left with the bases loaded, and the Tigers went on to beat the Texas Rangers 5-3 on Wednesday.Joey Gallo homered twice to become the first Rangers player ever with 10 homers in a 10-game stretch, and those solo shots combined went more than 900 feet. The All-Star right fielder, who has 23 homers overall, also had his fourth outfield assist of the season, and drove in the other Texas run when he drew his AL-best 67th walk with the bases loaded in the eighth.Kyle Funkhouser (3-0) worked two scoreless innings after starter Casey Mize, the former No. 1 overall pick being limited by the Tigers, allowed the Gallo homers in his four innings. Gregory Soto got the last six outs for his seventh save in as many chances, including consecutive strikeouts after walking Gallo.Jeimer Candelario hit a solo homer for Detroit.Three days after getting selected to his first All-Star team, Gibson (6-1) struck out seven but allowed eight hits and five runs over 6 1/3 innings. His ERA jumped from an AL-best 1.98 to 2.29. Former Rangers teammate Lance Lynn, also an All-Star, took over as the league’s ERA leader at 1.99 after six innings for the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday in a win at Minnesota.The game was tied 2-2 with one out in the seventh when Gibson walked No. 9 batter Jake Rogers to load the bases. Cabrera then got career hit No. 2,924 on a ball that deflected off the glove of reliever Joely Rodriguez. Jonathan Schoop then blooped a single over first base for another run before Robbie Grossman, who had an RBI single in the first, walked with the bases still loaded.Gallo pulled a 440-foot homer into the seats in right-center field in the second. He went even deeper two innings later, with a 462-foot shot that is the longest hit by a Rangers player in the stadium they moved into last season.UNBEATEN NO MOREGibson’s franchise record for a starting pitcher ended at 16 consecutive starts to open the season without a loss. It was the most runs he allowed since his first career opening day start April 1 at Kansas City, when he gave up five runs while getting only one out after Texas had scored five runs in the top of the first inning.TRAINER’S ROOMTigers: CF Daz Cameron was placed on the 10-day injured list, retroactive to Monday when he was scratched from the starting lineup before the series opener because of a sprained big right toe. RHP Spencer Turnbull (strained right forearm) was transferred to the 60-day IL after feeling more symptoms during his throwing program. INF/OF Niko Goodrum (left finger tendon) was reinstated from the 10-day IL.Rangers: C Jose Trevino (right forearm bruise) won’t be activated before All-Star break, even though he is eligible to come off the 10-day IL as early as Friday. Manager Chris Woodward said Trevino is swinging the bat, but still isn’t close to 100%.UP NEXTTigers: Lefty Tarik Skubal (5-7, 4.35 ERA) is set to start Thursday night in the opener of a four-game series at AL Central rival Minnesota.Rangers: After a day off Thursday, right-hander Jordan Lyles (4-5, 4.98) is scheduled to start in a home series opener against Oakland. He threw 124 pitches Saturday in his previous start.———More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports

Peralta 7 scoreless innings for Tigers in 7-3 win at Rangers

Peralta 7 scoreless innings for Tigers in 7-3 win at Rangers

Wily Peralta had his longest big league outing since 2016 as the Detroit Tigers opened their series in Texas with a 7-3 winBy STEPHEN HAWKINS AP Baseball WriterJuly 6, 2021, 3:53 AM• 4 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleARLINGTON, Texas — Wily Peralta threw seven scoreless innings in his longest big league outing since 2016 and the Detroit Tigers beat the Texas Rangers 7-3 on Monday night.No. 9 batter Zack Short homered for the Tigers, who have won three in a row and five of six. Former Rangers outfielder Nomar Mazara twice drove in a run without a hit.Peralta (2-1), back in the majors only three weeks, struck out six without a walk while throwing 61 of 91 pitches for strikes. The right-hander allowed only three hits in his fourth start for Detroit.“I know that if I’m healthy 100%, I’m going to be able to do my job, and that’s what I’m doing right now. I’m thankful to the team for this opportunity,” Peralta said. “I just need to get used to (starting) again, and right now I feel very comfortable.”Kolby Allard (2-5) struck out a career-high nine in his 5 1/3 innings, and only two of the five runs scored against the Texas lefty were earned.The Rangers avoided a shutout with back-to-back homers with two outs in the ninth off reliever Bryan Garcia. All-Star right fielder Joey Gallo’s 21st homer was an opposite-field, two-run shot to left before Jonah Heim also went deep.“Outside of Kolby and a couple of homers in the ninth, that was probably our worst game of the year,” Rangers manager Chris Woodward said. “We didn’t really stick to the plan we talked about with Peralta. He was good, don’t get me wrong. He mixed up his speeds and executed some pitches.”The 32-year-old Peralta was released by Kansas City midseason two years ago and spent all of 2020 as a free agent before going to spring training this year with the Tigers on a minor league deal and starting the season at Triple-A Toledo.”He was late to camp, and didn’t get an opportunity, but hung with us until we needed him, and it’s big for him and big for our team,” Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said. “Hard to complain about anything that’s he’s doing right now.”Peralta made 120 starts for Milwaukee from his debut in 2012 until the Brewers moved him to the bullpen midway through the 2017 season, and was a reliever for all 79 of his games for the Royals in 2018 and 2019. He hadn’t pitched at least seven innings since back-to-back starts in 2016 (Aug. 30 and Sept. 6).Detroit went ahead to stay in the fourth when Miguel Cabrera had a leadoff single and later scored as Mazara reached on a fielder’s choice grounder.The Tigers scored five times in the sixth, the first two runs coming when first baseman Nate Lowe was charged with two errors on a ball hit by Mazara with the bases loaded. Lowe misplayed the grounder, then tossed the ball toward an unoccupied first base, allowing another run to score and ending Allard’s night.Willi Castro had a RBI sac bunt on the first pitch by reliever Brett Martin, and two pitches later Short’s second homer of the season was a two-run shot that made it 6-0. Short, who had struck out in six consecutive at-bats before going deep, added a sac fly in the eighth.SHORT HOPSGold Glove-winning right fielder Gallo made a leaping catch at the wall when rookie Akil Baddoo hit the first pitch of the game toward the right field corner. … Detroit was 0-6 against the Rangers in 2019, and didn’t face them last season.HALE BACK TO COLLEGEThird base coach Chip Hale worked his final game with the Tigers. He was named Monday as the new head coach at Arizona, his alma mater where he was part of a national championship as a player in 1986. He will be introduced Tuesday on the Tucson campus. “I asked him to work tonight so that we can stabilize things,” Hinch said. Bench coach George Lombard will take over as third base coach at least until the All-Star break.TRAINER’S ROOMTigers: CF Daz Cameron was scratched from the lineup with a sprained big right toe after he crashed into the wall when tracking flyballs during pregame batting practice. Baddoo replaced Cameron in center.UP NEXTTigers right-hander José Ureña (2-8, 6.22 ERA) makes his first July start after going winless in June — 0-4 with a 12.50 ERA over 18 innings in five starts. Rookie right-hander Dane Dunning (3-6, 4.38), still being limited by the Rangers, hasn’t gone more than five innings his last seven games.———More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports

Gibson 10 Ks, Gallo 2 HRs for Rangers in 8-0 win over Royals

Gibson 10 Ks, Gallo 2 HRs for Rangers in 8-0 win over Royals

ARLINGTON, Texas — Kyle Gibson showed the Kansas City Royals what an anomaly his opening-day start against them was, and just how good he has been for the Texas Rangers the rest of this season.Joey Gallo sent balls nearly 900 feet with two big swings.Gibson had a season-high 10 strikeouts over seven innings, Gallo hit two massive homers and the Rangers beat Kansas City 8-0 on Saturday, ending a more than month-long stretch without winning a series — or even consecutive games.Gibson (6-0) allowed only three base runners, on consecutive singles and a walk to start the fifth, before getting out of that bases-loaded jam.It was the 16th consecutive start for Gibson without a loss, including his 2020 finale before the first opening day start of his career April 1 at Kansas City, when he gave up five runs while recording only one out after the Rangers had scored five times in the top of the first. The Royals never crossed the plate this time.“This guy has been dominant,” manager Chris Woodward said. “Outside of the game one, he’s been absolutely dominant.”The veteran right-hander, whose ERA was 135.00 after the opener in Kansas City, now leads the American League at 2.00 after allowing only 15 earned runs over 89 2/3 innings in his last 14 starts.Gallo hit a 451-foot homer in the fourth inning, a three-run shot that landed in the seats beyond and above the Rangers bullpen in right-center for a 6-0 lead. His two-run shot in the eighth was a towering 445-foot blast that hit the top of the batter’s eye in straightaway center field. He has 15 homers this season, four in the last seven games, and the five RBIs matched a career high.“I’ve been feeling good at the plate. Today, got some results, got some pitches to hit, and and I didn’t miss them,” Gallo said. “At the end of the day, that’s the plan.”Before taking the first two of the three-game series against Kansas City, the Rangers (29-48) hadn’t won consecutive games or a series since a three-game sweep of Houston from May 20-22, and had gone 0-7-2 in their last nine series. Kansas City has lost four games in a row, and 15 of 20.Gibson had five strikeouts in a row in one stretch while retiring the first Royals 12 batters. The fourth ended with shortstop Isiah Kiner-Falefa’s leaping catch of a liner, which created thoughts of a possible no-hitter.“It probably showed up a little bit more in my mind after that fourth inning when Kiner made that great play,” Gibson said. “I guess I’m always kind of thinking about that. I don’t ever want to give up a hit, a run. Whenever you go to the lineup the first time, and especially once you get into the fifth, it starts to creep into your head.”The no-hit bid ended on Ryan O’Hearn’s leadoff single up to the middle to start the fifth. Kelvin Gutierrez then had an infield single before a walk to Jorge Soler. But Jarrod Dyson then struck out and Michael A. Taylor grounded into a double play on a chopper to third baseman Brock Holt to miss their best scoring chance.“I faced that that guy in the past before, and he definitely looked better today than I remember,” O’Hearn said. “That was our shot right there … a point in the game where we needed to capitalize”The Rangers went ahead 3-0 in the second, after Kris Bubic (2-3) took over for opener Kyler Zimmer and hit Willie Calhoun with a pitch to start the inning that fractured the left forearm of the designated hitter. Jose Trevino had a two-run double and rookie Adolis Garcia got his 54th RB I on a single between two walks.“Just couldn’t really get in a rhythm with anything,” Bubic said. “I didn’t do my job and put the team in a pretty tough spot.”TRAINER’S ROOMRoyals: Manager Mike Matheny said lefty Danny Duffy is feeling good, and that the Royals would “like to keep him that way.” Duffy on Friday night made only his second relief appearance in 122 games since becoming a full-time starter during the 2016 season. He threw two innings in his start Wednesday, when he came back from missing six weeks with a forearm flexor strain.Rangers: Calhoun initially stayed in the game, though he kept grabbing near his left wrist while on the bases before scoring on Trevino’s double. Andy Ibañez replaced Calhoun at DH in the third. Woodward said the Rangers didn’t a full prognosis, but Calhoun will miss significant time.UP NEXTJordan Lyles (2-5, 5.47 ERA) returns to the starter’s role for Texas after six solid innings in relief when the righty pitched out of the bullpen in what was supposed to be his last turn. RHP Brady Singer (3-5, 4.77) starts for the Royals.———More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports

A's split with 5-1 win in Texas as Bassitt gets 8th W in row

A's split with 5-1 win in Texas as Bassitt gets 8th W in row

Chris Bassitt has won eight decisions in a row for the Oakland AthleticsBy STEPHEN HAWKINS AP Baseball WriterJune 24, 2021, 10:31 PM• 5 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleARLINGTON, Texas — Chris Bassitt is on quite a roll for the Oakland Athletics since being their opening day starter and then losing his first two games. He hasn’t lost since.Bassitt limited Texas to five singles while pitching seven innings to win his eighth consecutive decision, the longest winning streak by an American League pitcher this season, as the A’s beat the Rangers 5-1 on Thursday for a series split.“Seven innings nowadays feels like nine for a starter,” manager Bob Melvin said. “That’s what he sets out to do. He wants to go out there and take some pressure off the bullpen. He wants to pitch deep in games.”Since losing to Houston on April 1, and then against the Los Angels Dodgers five days later, Bassitt (8-2) had gone 8-0 with a 2.95 ERA in 14 starts. It is the longest winning streak in his seven big league seasons, the last six with Oakland.Jed Lowrie drove in runs with a single and a no-doubt home run for the A’s (46-31), whose four-game split dropped then behind Houston in the AL West. The A’s arrived in Texas having led the division for all but one day since April 19.Bassitt was facing what was to be his last batter regardless in the seventh when Isiah Kiner-Falefa, the new Rangers shortstop after they traded 12-year starter Elvis Andrus to Oakland just before spring training, grounded into an inning-ending double play. Andrus made a sliding grab up the middle and flipped to the ball with his glove to second baseman Lowrie for the relay to first.“Pretty vintage Elvis,” Lowrie said.“An amazing play by Elvis, so he saved me there,” Bassitt said.Lowrie’s RBI single in the first was already the fourth hit for the A’s, and put them up 3-0 against left-hander Kolby Allard (2-3). Ramón Laureano had an RBI double and another run scored on a groundout.Allard managed to make it through six innings. The only other run he allowed was Lowrie’s 433-foot homer to straightaway center leading off the fourth.“It was kind of frustrating a little bit,” said Allard, who hadn’t allowed more than two runs in any of his four previous starts since moving into the rotation. “ Obviously settled down fairly good and kind of pitched well the rest of the game, but just frustrating going out there and having the first inning go as it did.”STRANGE TRIP AROUND THE BASESTexas got its only run after Eli White was hit by a pitch leading off the second, moved up two bases on the same wild pitch and scored on a groundout. White also had two singles and is 8 for 15 his last four games.SHORT HOPSThe Rangers (27-48) have gone 9-30 since they reached .500 with a win over Seattle on May 9. … Andrus played the entire series, and had five hits over the last three games. “Not the youngest guy on our team, but he wanted no part of a off day here,” Melvin said of the 32-year-old shortstop. … Joe Barlow, a 25-year-old right-hander selected by Texas in the 11th round of the 2016 amateur draft, made his major league debut and struck out his first two batters in a perfect eighth. “The maturity level, you could see he was calm out there,” manager Chris Woodward said.TRAINER’S ROOMAthletics: LF Mark Canha left in the third inning because of a left hip strain and will have an MRI on Friday. … RHP Mike Fiers likely won’t throw again for at least four more weeks because of an injection for his sprained right elbow. He visited Dr. James Andrews on Wednesday after he felt discomfort when trying to resume throwing this week. Fiers has made only two starts this season, the last May 6. … Laureano, the usual center fielder, was the DH for the second time in the series, and only his eighth game since missing 17 because of a straight right hip. “With the injury that he had, if we can get him off the turf here where he feels it a little bit more, I know he does, it’s a way to get his bat in the lineup,” Melvin said.UP NEXTAthletics: End the first of their three 10-game trips this season close to home. Left-hander Sean Manaea (6-3, 3.01), who has a 1.19 ERA over his last six starts, pitches Friday night in the opener of a three-game series against the Giants in San FranciscoRangers: Remain home for a three-game series against Kansas City, with former Rangers starter Mike Minor (6-4, 4.18) set to face them Friday night. Rookie right-hander Dane Dunning (2-6 4.71) starts for Texas.———More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports

Rangers end 6-game skid with 8-3 win over Elvis and the A's

Rangers end 6-game skid with 8-3 win over Elvis and the A's

ARLINGTON, Texas — Kyle Gibson couldn’t really get comfortable on the mound, and that had nothing to do with new mandatory checks by umpires looking for foreign substances.“I’ve only used rosin pitching my whole life. So they said, ‘Hey, nothing looks sticky here, let’s move on,” said Gibson, who pitched into the sixth inning to help the Rangers end another losing streak.Andy Ibañez and Jose Trevino hit three-run homers to back Gibson as the Rangers snapped a six-game losing streak with an 8-3 win over the Oakland Athletics and Elvis Andrus in the shortstop’s return to Texas for the first time since getting traded. It was the fourth time this season the veteran right-hander started a win that ended a losing streak of at least three games for his team.“That third inning, just kind of felt like I was fighting myself all night after that and I was just trying to find a pitch I could throw for a strike,” Gibson said. “Just one of those weird nights, probably the first time in a while that I didn’t feel comfortable with my delivery, didn’t feel comfortable with where the ball was going.”Ibañez hit his first major league homer as part of a five-run first against Frankie Montas (7-7). The 28-year-old Cuban infielder made his big league debut last month and was recalled Monday after four homers his last nine games at Triple-A Round Rock.Trevino hit a 420-foot drive to straightaway center for an 8-2 lead in the sixth, one batter before Montas was pulled.“Playing with a five-run lead right from he beginning kind of puts everybody at ease a little bit. And you have your best guy on the mound,” manager Chris Woodward said. “That probably wasn’t obviously Gibby’s best start, but he still found a way to to get us into the sixth inning.”Andrus got a nice ovation when he came to bat in the second inning. It kept getting louder, and he eventually stepped out of the batter’s box with a smile on his face and tipped his helmet to the crowd.“No surprise that he got the type of reception that he did. Monday night, good crowd, probably a lot had to do with Elvis coming back to town and playing. I think we all got a little choked up too,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “He’s meant so much to this city and this team and been with them so long.”Many in the announced crowd of 20,259 got Andrus bobbleheads when entering the building. Those were initially part of planned giveaways last year that never happened since the Rangers played the 2020 season without fans in their new ballpark because of the coronavirus pandemic.Andrus was traded just before spring training after deciding last offseason that Isiah-Kiner Falefa would move to shortstop after winning a Gold Glove at third base last season. Andrus was the longest-tenured player in Texas, the starting shortstop for 12 seasons and lone player remaining from the franchise’s only World Series appearances in 2010 and 2011.Andrus, hitting .220 after going 0 for 4, reached on an error by Kiner-Falefa in the eighth but was promptly retired when Sean Murphy hit a liner right at first baseman Nate Lowe, who turned and tagged out Andrus for a double play.Gibson (5-0, 2.17 ERA) struck out three and walked three giving up two runs over 5 1/3 innings. The right-hander has made 15 consecutive starts without a losing decision, though that streak includes his first career opening day start, when the Rangers had its only other five-run first this season. Gibson then gave up five runs while recording only one out in the bottom of the first at Kansas City.Since that opener, Gibson has given up more than two runs in a start only once.The A’s had a couple of two-out walks before getting a hit off Gibson, on Murphy’s one-out solo homer in the fifth. Matt Olson and Ramón Laureano had back-to-back doubles to open the sixth.Montas struck out six, but gave up eight runs and nine hits in 5 2/3 innings.“It was really humid, I got sweat all on my palms,” Montas said. “That made the ball slippery.”SHORT HOPSMurphy has eight homers overall, three in the last six games. … Texas had at least multiple homers driving in at least three runs in the game game for only the third time since the start of the 2019 season.RETURN FOR ELVISThe Rangers got outfielder/designated hitter Khris Davis and switch-hitting catcher Jonah Heim from the A’s in the Andrus deal. Davis is now a free agent after being designated for assignment June 8. He hit .157 with two homers and five RBIs in 22 games after missing the first 34 games of the season with a left quad strain. Heim has started 28 games.UP NEXTThe Rangers said afterward that Taylor Hearn (2-1, 2.84) would start Tuesday instead of Jordan Lyles (2-5, 5.68 ERA), who gave up four home runs over 4 1/3 innings in his last start. The Rangers haven’t won consecutive games since sweeping three games against Houston from May 21-23. Lefty Cole Irvin (4-7, 3.89) is on the mound for Oakland.———More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports

Searching for sticky stuff: MLB umps start checking pitchers

Searching for sticky stuff: MLB umps start checking pitchers

ARLINGTON, Texas — Jacob deGrom was stopped coming off the mound after retiring the side in order in the first inning, and chuckled as he handed his glove and cap over to the umpire. The New York Mets ace then undid his belt buckle as requested, showing there was no goop there either.This was no sticky situation for the two-time National League Cy Young Award winner, only what is going to become a new norm for all professional pitchers.The search is on for unauthorized foreign substances that pitchers can use to doctor baseballs, long against the rules but rarely enforced until now. The crackdown began Monday when major and minor league umpires started regular checks of all pitchers for tacky substances used to get a better grip on the balls, but can also increase the spin of the balls and make hitting them more difficult.”I said, ‘What all do you guys need?’ ‘Glove, hat and belt,’ they said. I handed them that stuff and then went along my way,” said deGrom, the first to get inspected since he was the first pitcher to take the mound on the day baseball’s new enforcement directive went into effect. He started the first game of New York’s home doubleheader against Atlanta.The Mets and Braves were among 14 Major League Baseball teams who played Monday, six days after a five-page memo to teams about the pending change in enforcement that followed what baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred called an extensive process of repeated warnings without effect.“I think I’ve seen everything in baseball, but this is new, setting a new precedent,” said Houston Astros manager Dusty Baker, in his 24th season as a big league manager after 19 seasons as a player.Asked whether such substances were tacitly allowed in the past, Baker responded, “You just didn’t really make a fuss about it, but it was against the rules, so we’ll see.”Rangers starter Kyle Gibson and Oakland’s Frankie Montas weren’t checked until after pitching in the second inning in Texas. Both were smiling after getting inspected on the field, and then getting a tap on the chest from plate umpire Dan Iassogna. They got checked again three innings later.Texas manager Chris Woodward said before the game that Gibson said he has never used anything on baseballa.“He’s kind of a unicorn nowadays … to have a guy who is so good who doesn’t use anything,” Woodward said. “It’s probably rare.”Manfred said last week that the enforcement of foreign substances was needed “to level the playing field” after two months of comprehensive data collection, including inspections of balls used in games and testing by third-party inspectors. That came with the league batting average at a more than a half-century low along with record strikeouts.Fans at Citi Field booed loudly when plate umpire Ben May halted deGrom on the pitcher’s path off the field after the right-hander had two strikeouts in the first inning. After being cleared by crew chief Ron Kulpa, who had jogged in from third base to do the inspection, deGrom walked on to the dugout, laughing with catcher Tomás Nido about the exchange as the fans cheered.Kyle Muller, who was making his first big league start for the Braves, was similarly stopped and inspected after the bottom of the first.DeGrom appeared to ask May after the top of the second if he’d need to be inspected again, but May waved him on that time. He was inspected again after the fifth, prompting more boos from the fans while their hometown pitcher was cleared again.“Honestly, I didn’t mind it. It was quick and it went pretty easy,” deGrom said.There was a strange occurrence in Phoenix when Milwaukee left-hander Brett Anderson was checked by umpires while leaving in the middle of the second with an undisclosed injury.Anderson was slowly walking off the field when he was approached by plate umpire D.J. Reyburn. After his glove and cap were quickly checked, the pitcher was allowed to go to the dugout.The umps had inspected Arizona starter Merrill Kelly after the top of the second.Any suspended players would not be replaced on a team’s active roster. Braves manager Brian Snitker emphasized that when he met with players Sunday and discussed crackdown at length.“I think the biggest thing we wanted to reiterate is if you get popped, we can’t replace you,” he said Monday from New York. “That’s a big deal. I think everybody’s aware of what’s going to go on and how serious it is, to not mess around and get suspended, because that’s a definite blow to your club when you got to go short like that.”Chicago Cubs manager David Ross, a former big league catcher, was asked whether hitters needed to be more careful in the batter’s box due to potentially slicker baseballs.“So the information so far in the last 10 days, batting average has gone up, on-base has gone up, (slugging percentage) has gone up. Spin rates are down on fastballs, breaking balls, and hit by pitches are exactly the same,” Ross said. “So you draw your own conclusions.”Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona, who was not worried about any issues with his pitchers, figured that everybody around the league would be on their best behavior with everyone watching the first night.“I’m sure there’s going to come a day when it’s a hot day and everybody’s a little irritable that something will probably happen,” Francona said. “MLB’s been pretty open that there might be a hiccup or two. But I do think for the most part, I think the majority of everybody wants the same thing. Just how you get to it some days, you know, you’re dealing with competitive people and sometimes you get your ire up a little bit or something. Something will happen, I’m sure.”———AP Baseball Writers Jake Seiner in New York, Noah Trister in Baltimore, Jay Cohen in Chicago; and AP Sports Writer David Brandt in Phoenix contributed to this report.———More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports

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