Reports: Angels fire visiting clubhouse manager for helping opponents illegally doctor baseballs

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 25:  A general view of a Los Angeles Angels hat in the dugout during the game between the New York Yankees and the Los Angeles Angels at Yankee Stadium on Friday May 25, 2018 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Rob Tringali/SportsChrome/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***
The Angels were tipped off by MLB about their clubhouse manager. It might be part of the league's new plan to stop such practices. (Photo by Rob Tringali/SportsChrome/Getty Images)

The Los Angeles Angels have fired their visiting clubhouse manager after an internal investigation confirmed allegations that he was providing ball-doctoring substances to opposing pitchers, according to ESPN’s Alden Gonzalez. The firing was initially reported by the Los Angeles Times' Maria Torres.

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The Angels were reportedly tipped off by Major League Baseball that Brian “Bubba” Harkins allegedly had been providing the sticky substances to improve opponents’ grip on the baseball.

The substance reportedly was a melted-down pine-tar solution and rosin, per ESPN.

Harkins reportedly had been employed by the Angels for more than 30 years, hired in 1981 as a bat boy and returning to the team as clubhouse manager in 1986. Angels president John Carpino confirmed to the Times that Harkins had been fired, but did not divulge the reason.

The Angels reportedly believe that Harkins acted alone in illegally aiding opponents and have not fired other clubhouse attendants.

MLB not playing around with illegal substances

The fact that MLB tipped off the Angels is likely the first step in the league’s reported initiative to crack down on pitchers using illegal sticky substances to improve their grip on the ball. The practice has been in use for decades — pretty much since the game’s inception — as a way for pitchers to increase the spin of the ball for more velocity and movement.

Cincinnati Reds pitcher Trevor Bauer, an outspoken voice about the practice, claimed recently that 70 percent of MLB pitchers today use some sort of substance, calling it “a bigger advantage than steroids.” He has accused the Houston Astros, in particular, in the past, which the team denied.

Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci reported on Monday that MLB put the league’s pitching and coaching staffs on notice with threats of suspensions and firings. While the Angels reportedly fired Harkins on their own, he might be only the first to get the axe this year.

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