New York Mets ace Max Scherzer was ejected before the bottom of the fourth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers after umpires apparently found a foreign substance on his glove and/or hand.
Scherzer was forced to change gloves following a routine substance check at the end of the third inning.
When Scherzer came out for the fourth, he got into a lengthy debate with umpires about what was on his hand. He screamed at the umpire crew and was given the boot by umpire Phil Cuzzi.
Scherzer explained postgame that he was thrown out after repeatedly stating to Cuzzi that his hand was sticky from a combination of sweat and rosin. Rosin is legal for pitchers to use in order to get a better grip on the baseball but can be considered illegal if it’s mixed with other foreign substances.
“He (Cuzzi) said my hand’s too sticky, and I said, ‘I swear on my kids’ lives, I’m not using anything else. This is sweat and rosin. Sweat and rosin,'” Scherzer said, per SNY. “I keep saying it over and over, and they touch my hand, and they say, ‘it’s sticky.’ … And they threw me out because of that.”
The three-time Cy Young Award winner added that he washed his hands thoroughly with alcohol in front of MLB officials between the third and fourth innings.
Scherzer’s agent, Scott Boras, also took aim at Cuzzi in a statement blasting both the veteran umpire and MLB itself for its enforcement of the substance check rules.
“MLB standards and rules enforcement should mandate and require an objective, verifiable standard,” Boras said, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post. “If you want to attack the integrity of the competition, you need clear, precise standards else you damage the game and (its) players.
“The Cuzzi on-field spectrometer is not the answer. MLB needs to employ available scientific methods (not subjective) to create verifiable certainly of (its) rules.”
The umpires had a different view of the situation.
“The level of stickiness on his hand was much worse than it was even in the initial inspection that had taken place two innings prior,” crew chief Dan Bellino told a pool reporter, according to Newsday’s Tim Healey. He added, “This was the stickiest that (a hand) has been since I’ve been inspecting hands, which now goes back three seasons.”
Bellino continued, “It was so sticky that when we touched his hand, our fingers were sticking to his hand. And whatever was on there remained on our fingers (for a couple of innings). … It was far more than we had ever seen before on a pitcher in live action.”
Per the substance check rules adopted by MLB during the 2021 season, any pitcher ejected for using a foreign substance faces an automatic 10-game suspension. Scherzer would also have the right to appeal any suspension if one is issued.
This is the second time in less than a week that a foreign substance check has turned into a head-scratching scene on the field. New York Yankees pitcher Domingo German was forced to wash his hands after umpires found a substance that turned out to be rosin during his start on Saturday.
An MLB spokesperson told SNY’s Andy Martino that the league didn’t issue a directive to umpires about enforcing rosin use following the German incident.
Jimmy Yacabonis took over on the mound for Scherzer, and the Mets went on to win the game 5-3.
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