Caleb Smith says he’s not a cheater, but the Diamondbacks left-hander is aware that people won’t believe him after he was ejected Wednesday night following a check of his glove.
Smith was tossed for having two dark, sticky spots on the inside of his mitt that were detected after he completed the eighth inning against the Phillies. Smith told reporters those spots were caused by dirt. Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo told reporters that Smith told him the spots “were a result of the rosin bag.”
“If I cheated, I would own up to it. But they’re, I guess, saying I cheated, and just by doing that it drags my name through the mud,” Smith said in a postgame Zoom call with reporters. “So even when my glove comes back [from MLB inspection after umpires confiscated it Wednesday] and they say that I wasn’t cheating, I mean, that’s already out there. People are just going to go with it. They’re just dragging my name through the mud.”
He called the umps’ finding of sticky stuff on the glove “bulls—, because there’s nothing on it.”
“I’m not stupid. I know that the main two things that they check are your glove and your hat. If I’m using something, which I wasn’t, I wouldn’t put it in my glove or my hat. That’s just ignorant,” he said.
Smith faces a 10-game suspension without pay from MLB and the Diamondbacks won’t be able to replace him on the 26-man active roster while he’s out. He would become the second pitcher to receive the penalty; Mariners left-hander Hector Santiago was suspended after he was ejected June 26.
The bans are part of MLB’s attempted crackdown on pitchers using sticky substances to improve their grip and increase the spin rates on their pitches.
“There’s nothing on his hand that, in my opinion, resulted in him being able to manipulate the baseball,” Lovullo said, per MLB.com.
One common thread in the Santiago and Smith ejections: the umpiring crew. Phil Cuzzi, Tom Hallion, Mark Ripperger and Cory Blaser worked both games. Cuzzi ejected Santiago and Hallion ejected Smith.
“He has a blue leather lining on the inside of his glove, so that stood out pretty noticeably,” Hallion, the crew chief, said, per MLB.com. “There were two dark — I’ll just call it darker areas of the glove — one on the left side, one on the right side of the heel. We touched those, kind of went around the glove to see if there was any other place that had anything. So there were the two spots that [seemed like] a foreign substance that had a sticky feel to it.”
Smith said his glove wasn’t any different when it was checked without incident two innings earlier. Cuzzi did that inspection, MLB.com reported, while Hallion did the check before the ejection. Smith pitched 2 2/3 innings in relief of starter Humberto Castellanos in the D-backs’ 4-2 win.
Santiago said after his ejection that rosin and sweat caused the stickiness in his glove. Per the crackdown guidelines, pitchers cannot have rosin on their glove hand.