Diamondbacks lefty Caleb Smith was ejected after the eighth inning of last night’s game against the Phillies after the umpiring crew believed to have detected a foreign substance on his glove. His glove will now be sent to the league headquarters for further examination, which could result in a 10-game suspension. Smith, who pitched 2 2/3 innings and had already cleared one check at the end of the sixth inning, vehemently argued his case as the umpiring crew spoke with manager Torey Lovullo (video link).
The 28-year-old Smith becomes just the second player ejected under the league’s new foreign-substance crackdown. If he’s suspended, as was the case with Mariners lefty Hector Santiago, the Diamondbacks would not be able to replace him on the roster over the course of his suspension.
Speaking to reporters after the game, Smith was understandably quite upset, and manager Torey Lovullo defended his player (Twitter links, with video, via Cameron Cox of 12 News in Arizona). Smith was adamant that if he’d cheated, he “would own up to it” and expressed anger that the ejection itself “drags my name through the mud” even though he does not ultimately believe he’ll be suspended.
“I’m not stupid,” Smith said. “I know the main two things they check are your glove and your hat. Even if I was using something, which I wasn’t, I wouldn’t put it in my glove or my hat. I mean, that’s just ignorant.”
Lovullo offered immediate support for his left-hander. “I’m always going to side with the player when he looks me square in the eyes and tells me that [he’s not cheating],” the manager said. “…I believe my player. I stand by my player. He told me there was nothing malicious happening. I asked to see his hand, and his hand was bone dry. … You can see Caleb goes to the ground a lot to get dirt on his hands. He has a pile of dirt on the side of his pantleg as a result of wiping down the dirt.”
Asked whether he was allowed to see and/or touch the glove, Lovullo acknowledged that it was “a little bit sticky” inside the heel of the glove but said there was no “huge buildup” and maintained his belief that it was a combination of sweat, rosin and dirt.
It’s now up to the league’s jurisdiction to determine whether there was or was not a foreign substance on Smith’s glove. Notably, however, ESPN’s Jesse Rogers reported after Santiago’s prior suspension that the league did not even further examine Santiago’s glove — instead issuing a suspension based solely on the umpires’ reported detection of a foreign substance (Twitter link). The crew chief in last night’s game, Tom Hallion, was also the crew chief at the time of Santiago’s ejection (and subsequent suspension). Via The Athletic’s Zach Buchanan, umpire Phil Cuzzi inspected Smith’s glove both at the end of the sixth inning, when he was cleared, and at the end of the eighth inning, when he was ejected.