Glove check ends in ejection for Caleb Smith

August 19th, 2021

PHOENIX -- D-backs left-hander Caleb Smith was ejected following the top of the eighth inning of the D-backs' 4-2 win over the Phillies on Wednesday after umpires said they found a foreign substance on his glove. Smith said that it was just a combination of resin and dirt and not something illegal.

According to the rules, a player who possesses or applies foreign substances in violation of the rules will be immediately ejected from the game and suspended (with pay) for 10 games. The umpiring crew shall be the sole judge as to whether the rules have been violated. The use of foreign substances is not subject to challenge using the replay review system.

"He has a blue leather lining on the inside of his glove, so that stood out pretty noticeably," crew chief Tom Hallion said. "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 came into the game with one out in the sixth, and like all relievers, had his glove inspected at the end of his first inning of work.

The umpire who inspected his glove after the top of the sixth was Phil Cuzzi, who was working third base. Nothing appeared out of the ordinary on that inspection, apparently, as Smith was allowed to continue pitching.

Following the eighth inning, during which he allowed a home run to Phillies center fielder Odúbel Herrera, Smith was again inspected by Cuzzi, who this time noticed the sticky spots and called the other umpires together to discuss; they eventually ejected Smith.

"It’s dirt," Smith said. "The inside of my glove is baby blue, where my hand goes in is blue. Last time I checked, we play baseball and you get dirty in baseball; you sweat a lot. I touch the dirt a lot. There’s not a foreign substance on there. There’s not pine tar. There’s nothing on there. I don’t use that. I was very surprised. He checked it the first time and everything was fine. Nothing changed between the time he checked it the first time and the last time he checked it and had a problem with it. I have no clue."

The glove was immediately removed from the field and will be sent to Major League Baseball, which will test the areas to determine what the substance is.

Hallion did not want to speculate as to what the substance was.

"I'm not going to stand here and tell you what exactly it was," Hallion said. "We don't have that kind of training. If you want to say it was rosin, I'll leave that up to Major League Baseball to decide whether it was or it wasn't. It's kind of out of our hands. We'll write the report, send that in tonight, they'll get the glove tomorrow and then what they do is up to them."

While Smith is confident that the testing will not show any illegal substance, he is worried that in the meantime, his reputation will be damaged.

"I’m really [ticked]," Smith said. "If I was cheating, I would be the first one to say, 'Hey, you caught me, I was cheating.' I’m not stupid. I know the main two things that they check are your glove and your hat. If I were using something -- and I wasn’t -- I wouldn’t put it in my glove or my hat. That’s just ignorant. They are, I guess, saying I cheated. And just by doing that, it drags my name through the mud."

Smith said he wipes his hands on the dirt at the back of the pitching mound often as a way of drying his hands from the sweat.

D-backs manager Torey Lovullo did not criticize the umpiring crew, but he made it clear that Smith had his support.

"Look, I believe my player," Lovullo said. "I’m going to stand by my player. He told me there was nothing malicious happening. I asked to see his hand and his hand was bone dry. He just maintained that those little hotspots were a result of the rosin bag. It’s in the league’s hands right now. They’ll get the glove examined and determine exactly what was there and what was causing that stickiness. You can see Caleb goes to the ground a lot to get dirt on his hands. He has a pile of dirt on the side of his pant leg as a result of wiping down the dirt off of his hand. There’s nothing on his hand that, in my opinion, resulted in him being able to manipulate the baseball.”