New York Mets starting pitcher Max Scherzer, left, and manager Buck Showalter argue with umpire Phil Cuzzi, second from left, and umpire Dan Bellino after they found a sticky substance on Scherzer’s glove and hand during the fourth inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Los Angeles, Wednesday, April 19, 2023. Scherzer was ejected from the game. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)
Twins manager Rocco Baldelli is tired of talking about sticky stuff.
Nearly two years since Major League Baseball began cracking down on pitchers using foreign substances to improve their pitches — and an uneventful 2022 season — the issue has made a comeback.
New York starter Domingo German had his hands checked twice during a 6-1 victory over the Twins on April 15 at Yankee Stadium. He remained in the game, and Baldelli was tossed after challenging that decision. Four days later, Mets pitcher Max Scherzer was ejected from a start when umpires determined he was using rosin, legal by most standards in MLB, for a competitive advantage.
Scherzer is serving the automatic 10-day suspension that comes with an ejection, and on Wednesday the Twins will face German again in the finale of a three-game series that started Monday at Target Field.
Baldelli was dismissive when asked if the Twins have had any sort of conversation with their pitchers about how rosin can and can’t be used. Most pitchers know how they are allowed to use rosin, and comply with the rules. Discussing it would be a waste of time.
“If we’re worried about that, or we’re having constant conversations about that, then we’re missing a hell of a lot of other stuff that’s way more important than that,” Baldelli said.
Twins reliever Emilio Pagan said he’s comfortable that he knows how he can legally use the rosin bag that sits on the back third of the mound for every game. He didn’t, however, know that pitchers are only allowed to use that rosin bag.
“I didn’t even know this was in the rule book until (Scherzer) got suspended,” the right-hander said.
After a quiet 2022 season, MLB ordered umpires to make hand inspections more rigorous this season. Both German and Scherzer were told to wash their hands; and each complied. But Scherzer’s pitching hand, plate umpire Dan Bellino said, was worse after he washed it. “The stickiest it has been since I’ve been inspecting hands,” he told a pool reporter after the game.
On Sept. 10, Baldelli requested umpires check the hair of Cleveland reliever James Karinchak late in a 7-6 loss at Target Field. At the time, he explained, “It would have been hard for me, and as a group as a whole, to watch their pitcher do the things that he does on the mound in a very upfront and straightforward way of trying to, apparently, alter some things.”
But talking about the issue, the Twins manager said, “Does get very tiring on our end.”
“We end up getting asked about it when there’s an incident, and we have to talk about it relentlessly,” he added. “But these are things that — like I said, this is something that a lot of people in this game deal with responsibly every day.”
Kenta Maeda came out of a bullpen session Monday ready to make his scheduled start in Wednesday’s series finale against the Yankees.
Maeda skipped his last scheduled start and Monday’s session was the final test for the right-hander, who was hit in the left ankle by a 111-mph batted ball during an 11-5 loss to the Red Sox at Fenway Park on April 20.
Asked if he had any residual pain, Maeda said, “Nothing in regards to throwing. I’m all good there. In terms of running and fielding, I wouldn’t say it’s a complete zero, but it’s not to a point where it’s going to impact me in my outing.”
With the news, the Twins optioned right-hander Bailey Ober back to Class AAA St. Paul. Ober (1-0) was the winner in Sunday’s 3-1 victory over Washington. He allowed one earned run on three hits and three hits and struck out four in 5⅔ innings.
Sunday’s victory over the Nationals was Baldelli’s 300th career win. When asked about it on Monday, he demurred. “We should talk about the players,” he said.