Brewers' Smith ejected for substance on arm
ATLANTA -- Milwaukee Brewers left-hander Will Smith was ejected from Thursday's game against the Atlanta Braves when umpires, urged on by Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez, discovered a prohibited substance on the reliever's arm.
Smith said he placed a mixture of rosin and sunscreen on his right arm while he was warming up in the bullpen in order to get a firm handle on the ball on a cool and blustery night at Turner Field. He simply forgot to wipe it off, he said, when he was rushed into the game.
Smith was suspended by MLB on Friday for eight games, but the penalty will be held in abeyance until an appeal is heard.
And Gonzalez pointing out the substance to the umps didn't sit well with the Brewers. At all.
"Pitchers are trying to get grips on the ball. We've had hitters on other teams asking for pitchers to get a grip on the ball. We've had [our] hitters hit in the head asking for [opposing] pitchers to get grips on the ball," Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell said in a surly clubhouse after the Braves' 10-1 win. "It's very common.
"It goes on on the other side, I guarantee you."
Said Smith: "It helps you be able to throw the ball. That's it. It's not going to spin more. You're not going to throw harder. You've got what you got."
Gonzalez said he noticed something when Smith, making his 19th appearance of the season, entered the game with two men on and one out in the bottom of the seventh in relief of Milwaukee starter Matt Garza. Atlanta was ahead 2-1 at the time.
Smith hit the first batter he faced, after getting ahead 0-2. But Gonzalez didn't alert crew chief Jim Joyce to the substance on Smith's arm until the second pitch to the next batter, Jace Peterson.
"I never went out there until he went to [the substance]," Gonzalez said. "It was about as plain as it could be. It's pretty blatant."
After Gonzalez got their attention, the umpiring crew met Smith at the mound. Joyce touched Smith's forearm to check for the substance and immediately tossed him with a slight wave.
Smith objected as he was leaving the mound, then had more to say from the Milwaukee dugout. But Joyce said afterward he had no choice but to eject the pitcher.
"I'm not going to make [the ejection] dramatic, because it is what it is and it's clear cut," Joyce said. "Like I told Craig, I have no recourse."
The Braves scored six more runs in the inning after Smith was ejected in rolling to the win in the opener of the four-game series.
Counsell, managing in just his 17th big league game, was asked after the game if he could envision a scenario in which he would call out an illegal substance on an opponent.
"When I'm seeing three of our guys getting hit in the head … not really," Counsell said. "No, I don't."
Carlos Gomez was the most recent Milwaukee batter hit by a pitch. He was beaned Sunday with a 97-mph fastball by New York Mets rookie Noah Syndergaard.
Still, Counsell conceded that the rule pertaining to pitchers and illegal substances is straightforward.
"It's the rule. [But] pitchers are using it … I guess you have to be discreet about it, I guess," Counsell said. "But it happens everywhere in the league. And it happens on his team, too."
Said Gonzalez: "When [an opponent] tries to be that blatant, sometimes you just have to do what you have to do."