Mets Max Scherzer suspended 10 games for sticky substance ejection

Mets pitcher Max Scherzer was suspended for 10 games by Major League Baseball on Thursday following his ejection for having a foreign substance on his hand during a game.

Scherzer initially appealed the suspension but dropped his appeal hours later. In exchange, his fine was reduced from $10,000 to $5,000, according to a person familiar with negotiations between MLB and the players’ union. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the agreement hadn’t been announced.

The appeal and suspension were imposed by Michael Hill, MLB’s senior vice president for on-field operations.

Scherzer became the third pitcher suspended by MLB since the crackdown on sticky substances started in June 2021. Seattle’s Héctor Santiago was penalized that June 28 and Arizona’s Caleb Smith that Aug. 24, also 10-game penalties.

All three inspections that led to suspensions involved umpire Phil Cuzzi.

Scherzer, a three-time Cy Young Award winner, was ejected on Wednesday during the fourth inning of a game at Dodger Stadium. He claimed the stickiness was caused by rosin and sweat and not by a foreign substance.

Cuzzi determined after the second inning that Scherzer’s hand was stickier and darker than normal and ordered Scherzer to wash his hand, which Scherzer said he did with alcohol while a Major League Baseball official watched.

After the third inning, Cuzzi then determined the pocket of Scherzer’s glove was “sticky,” likely with too much rosin, and he ordered Scherzer to change gloves. The umpires then checked the 38-year-old right-hander again before the fourth, and his hands were even worse than before.

Speaking in San Francisco before New York’s game against the Giants, Mets manager Buck Showalter described Scherzer’s state of mind as good and pointed out that the pitcher was at the front of the line when the team came off the field after Wednesday’s game.

“He loved what his teammates did behind him,” Showalter said. “He’s a very competitive guy, but he also always wants to do what’s best for the team.”

The manager said Thursday that the aftermath of Scherzer’s ejection wasn’t unexpected, and called it “pretty much standard in history.” He said a day earlier that he was comfortable with where the team is in the Scherzer incident, and explained what he meant.

“Meaning we’re comfortable with what went down and what happened and where there was a lack of guilt,” Showalter said.

Scherzer’s agent, Scott Boras, said in a statement that the sticky situation is different to different people and umpires.

“No one can explain what is too sticky,” Boras said. “There are no units of stickiness to quantify. How do you appropriately enforce? MLB attempts to level the playing field by using standards that are not measurable. Further, one umpire has a stickiness standard that is different than all other umpires.

“Under this standard, players are not given due process of how to use an approved substance provided by the league,” Boras added. “This reminds me of a local wine taster – he likes what likes.”

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