NEW YORK -- Major League Baseball is experimenting with pre-tacked baseballs at some Triple-A games during the last stretch of the minor league season.
The test run could be a step toward updating the big league balls after officials cracked down midseason on the use of illegal sticky substances used by pitchers to improve grip. MLB confirmed the trial to The Associated Press on Thursday after it was initially reported by Baseball America.
MLB has been experimenting with tacky baseballs since at least 2016, when some were game-tested at the Arizona Fall League. Feedback from pitchers was generally unenthusiastic, but that was before the league upped its enforcement to prevent the use of long-used concoctions like a mix of sunscreen and rosin, as well as recent innovations like grip enhancers created for professional strongmen.
Pitchers have complained that the current major league ball is slick and that the mud rubbed on it before games is inconsistent, sometimes becoming dry and powdery.
The prototypes used in Triple-A have a substance applied to them to create a bit of tackiness. The league hopes to find a ball that will be easier for pitchers to grip but won't allow them to enhance the spin rate of their pitches.
Only a few Triple-A teams will use the prototype balls over the final 10 games because MLB has limited supplies.