ESPN News Services
Jun 13, 2023, 10:18 PM ET
The Mets tapped Smith to take the mound in the seventh inning, with the Yankees leading 7-6. When Smith took the field, first base umpire Bill Miller performed an extensive foreign substance check of his hands, conferred with the umpire crew and tossed the pitcher.
“Drew Smith was ejected because he had sticky hands,” Miller, the crew chief, told a pool reporter. “I don’t know what’s on his hand, all I know it was sticky — sticky to the touch. It stuck to my hands when I touched it. Not only his pitching hand, but his glove hand as well.”
Smith officially went down in the box score as 0.0 innings pitched, zero pitches.
“They said both of my hands were too sticky,” Smith said. “Really surprised, because I haven’t done anything different all year. Sweat and rosin. I don’t know what else to say. Nothing changed. It’s just, I think the process is so arbitrary. It can change from one crew to the other, and I think that’s the main issue.”
Miller said Smith’s hand was the stickiest he’s felt this season and that the other three umpires agreed.
“I think if something’s sticky, it’s illegal,” Miller said. “They cannot manipulate the rosin. They can’t use foreign substance. I don’t know what was on his hand. But his hand was sticky to the touch, where my hand stuck to his hand.”
Smith now faces an automatic 10-game suspension for use of a foreign substance, something both New York clubs are plenty familiar with. The only two sticky-stuff suspensions this season were assessed to Mets starting pitcher Max Scherzer and Yankees starting pitcher Domingo German.
Scherzer started Tuesday night for the Mets.
“I think we’re all angry about this one. You feel [Smith’s] hand, you don’t feel anything,” Scherzer said. “He’s been cleared by every other umpire and now all of a sudden he’s getting thrown out. I double down on this in saying that there’s got to be a spin-rate component to getting an ejection.
“I mean, he hasn’t even thrown a pitch. How do you know he’s increasing his spin rate? You don’t know that. It’s subjective to what the umpire thinks. So until he’s actually guilty of actually increasing his spin rate or doing something to the ball, how can we sit here and say that?”
Scherzer said he spoke with Smith and planned to contact the players’ union to “figure out what we can do.”
“This is a dangerous issue to sit here and keep cracking down on pitchers, because we need grip to be able to throw the baseball. If not, it ends up at the hitter’s head,” Scherzer said. “So this isn’t just a black-and-white issue. This is a gray issue and it’s complex and I know we’re all very frustrated, because it doesn’t appear that Drew violated any rule.”
Smith, 29, is appearing in his fifth major league season, all with the Mets. In 26 games out of the bullpen, he has a 3-2 record and a 4.18 ERA.
Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.