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Mets’ Max Scherzer suspended 10 games for violating MLB rules on use of foreign substances


New York Mets pitcher Max Scherzer was suspended for 10 games and fined $10,000 on Thursday for a violation of Major League Baseball’s rules prohibiting the use of foreign substances to aid in the grip of the ball. The three-time Cy Young Award winner and future Hall of Famer plans to appeal the suspension.

Scherzer was ejected in the middle of the fourth inning of Wednesday’s game in Dodger Stadium after being inspected by umpires and told to wash his hands after the second inning and to replace his glove and wash his hands again after the third inning.

When umpires inspected Scherzer’s hand before the fourth, “the level of stickiness was much worse than it was even in the initial inspection that had taken place two innings prior,” home plate umpire and crew chief Dan Bellino said. “This was the stickiest that it has been since I’ve been inspecting hands, which now goes back three seasons.”

Scherzer told Bellino and first base umpire Phil Cuzzi repeatedly that the stickiness was caused by “sweat and rosin, sweat and rosin,” but under baseball’s enhanced enforcement of rules prohibiting the use of foreign substances by pitchers, rosin can be considered a foreign substance if it is misapplied or excessively used.

Bellino said Scherzer’s “entire hand was stickier than anything we had inspected before,” so sticky that “when we touched his hand, our fingers were sticking to his hand,” the umpire said. The pitcher was ejected by Cuzzi, triggering an automatic 10-game suspension.

Michael Hill, MLB’s senior vice president of on-field operations, said in Thursday’s news release that umpires concluded “the level of stickiness during the fourth-inning check was so extreme that it was inconsistent with the use of rosin and/or sweat alone.”

Scherzer declined to comment when approached by reporters in San Francisco on Thursday.

Scherzer, who had thrown three scoreless, one-hit innings in an eventual 5-3 win over the Dodgers, was furious after his ejection, saying he would “have to be an absolute idiot to try to do anything before coming back out for the fourth,” sentiments that were echoed by his agent, Scott Boras, on Thursday.

“You approve him to throw the third inning, and all of a sudden he’s throwing the fourth inning with an illegal substance?” Boras said. “What kind of village idiot would do something like that, knowing you’re under the scrutiny of what just occurred in the prior two innings?

“So now the question is, what is the appropriate application of a legal substance, and to what level does tacky or sticky become sticky-sticky? Because sticky is OK, but sticky-sticky is not? How does [Scherzer] possibly know?”

Scherzer’s suspension was the first under baseball’s enhanced sticky stuff rules since 2021, when Seattle left-hander Hector Santiago and Arizona right-hander Caleb Smith were ejected and suspended for 10 games.

Cuzzi was the umpire who ejected Santiago. He was also the one who found a sticky substance on the glove of Smith, who was ejected by crew chief Tom Hallion. Boras did not think this was a coincidence.

“Phil Cuzzi is a good umpire who apparently graduated magna cum laude from the sticky school,” the agent said. “He is one of 100 umpires who participated in the potential use of this rule, and none, other than him, have used it.”

Cuzzi said he told Scherzer and Mets manager Buck Showalter that it didn’t matter to umpires what substance was causing the stickiness.

“All we know is that it was far stickier than anything that we felt certainly [on Wednesday] and anything this year,” Cuzzi said. “So in this case, we felt as though he had two chances to clean it up, and he didn’t.”

Boras argued that baseball’s rules regarding the use of foreign substances are too vague and too subjective.

“It’s not a rule, it’s a standard, because a standard is subjective,” Boras said. “A rule is specific, objective, and it has identifiable criteria. “How much [rosin] is too much? These rules have created a dynamic that no player can follow.”

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