Major League Baseball has reportedly adopted a new policy designed to prevent teams from intentionally hitting opposing players with a pitch.
Per MLB Network's Jon Heyman, in a memo MLB sent to all 30 teams, umpires will now meet to determine if they believe there was intent on a hit-by-pitch, and managers will be "held more accountable" in the event a hit-by-pitch is deemed to be intentional.
Heyman noted the rule change is unrelated to recent concerns voiced by Houston Astros manager Dusty Baker about potential retaliation from opposing teams in light of the cheating scandal.
Per Heyman, MLB's impetus for changing the rule was tied to issues from the 2019 season, with the benches-clearing brawl between the Pittsburgh Pirates and Cincinnati Reds from July 30 that resulted in both managers and six different players from both teams receiving suspensions specifically cited.
The brawl occurred in the top of the ninth inning when Reds pitcher Amir Garrett charged Pittsburgh's dugout in between hitters. It was instigated the previous inning after Pirates reliever Keone Kela threw a pitch near the head of Reds infielder Derek Dietrich.
MLB's change comes in the wake of Baker telling reporters he was "depending on the league to try to put a stop to this seemingly premeditated retaliation that I'm hearing about."
Heyman noted former MLB pitcher Chris Young, who currently works with the league office as vice president of on-field operations, initiatives and strategy, spearheaded this rule change to hold managers more accountable in an attempt to reduce the risk of potential injuries from retaliation.
Under the previous rules, the home-plate umpire determined whether to eject a pitcher and/or manager if a hit-by-pitch was deemed to be intentional.