MLB commissioner suspects many pitchers are using banned sticky stuff

Domingo German
Posted at 4:00 PM, Jun 15, 2023

NEW YORK (AP) — Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred thinks the use of banned sticky stuff is more widespread than the three pitchers ejected this season for illegal grip aids.

“I am sure that out of an abundance of caution and good judgment, umpires have had questionable situations that they decided: just not quite sure,” Manfred said Thursday following an owners meeting. “And I am 100% certain they err on the side of no violation."

New York Mets pitcher Drew Smith was suspended for 10 games Wednesday, a day after he was ejected. That followed similar bans for Mets teammate Max Scherzer on April 20 and Yankees pitcher Domingo Germán on May 17.

“We talk to the umpires after each situation like that. I think it is fair to say across the board the violation situations were in the unquestionable zone,” Manfred said. “It was absolutely clear that the level of stickiness in each situation could not be have been produced by the allowable use of a rosin bag,”

Five pitchers have been suspended since MLB began its crackdown on foreign substances in June 2021, Seattle’s Hector Santiago and Arizona’s Caleb Smith served suspensions in 2021.

“Nothing arbitrary about the enforcement,” Manfred said. "The umpires all receive uniform training on what the use of rosin on the mound in the way that is allowed under the rules, what that feels like and what it feels like when you’re doing something illegal, either combining it with rubbing alcohol or sunscreen or some other sticky substance.

“I don’t accept the premise that that it’s arbitrary. And, look, the sticky substance phenomenon was altering the way the game was being played on the field. And we feel that from an integrity and fairness perspective it’s our obligation to do everything we can to make sure those rules are enforced. Where the violations happen to fall, that’s a product of who’s violating, in my view.”