Pitcher's notes confiscated in 'an absolute first'
Umpire cites 'foreign substance' in removing Davis' scouting report
PHILADELPHIA -- Phillies left-hander Austin Davis pulled a piece of paper out of his back pocket a couple of times in the eighth inning Saturday night in a 7-1 loss to the Cubs at Citizens Bank Park. He studied the sheet before he faced Kristopher Bryant, sticking the paper back in his pocket before he threw a pitch.
He pulled out the paper again before he faced pinch-hitter Addison Russell.
That is when third-base umpire Joe West approached Davis and confiscated it.
In what might be a baseball first, West seized Davis' scouting report of Cubs batters because Rule 6.02(c)(7) states the pitcher shall not "have on his person, or in his possession, any foreign substance."
"I know all the players now carry a cheat sheet like this," West said afterward. "Until the office tells me, I can't let the pitcher do it. I can't let him do it. I saw him take it out and I went, 'What the heck is that?' I said, 'You can have it back after the game, but you can't have it now.' I didn't want to throw him out. I know it's foreign, but he's not trying to cheat."
Davis is believed to be the only Phillies pitcher to carry a scouting report with him to the mound.
"This is something I create," he said. "We have our meeting where we go over the hitters. I take that information and put it on a card so I don't have to try and memorize it, and use my mental energy to get ready for the game. Then I just take a glance and go.
"Our analytics department works really, really hard to come up with this stuff for us, and I want to use it because they work all day to come up with stuff to help get guys out. And if I have an answer to get a guy out, I want to know what that is."
West's decision to take the paper, which was not laminated, surprised the Phillies and Cubs. Phillies manager Gabe Kapler walked onto the field for an explanation. He told West that Davis was not cheating.
"I said, 'I know that. That's why I'm not kicking him out,'" West said.
"Obviously we're using it for a scouting report and our outfielders use them, some of our infielders use them, Zack Greinke uses it," Kapler said. "It's well documented, and Austin Davis is pulling the card out of his pocket on the mound using it as a reference how to attack the hitters. I think it's actually a really good thing for baseball.
"I don't really quite understand this one. I mean, it's not like he's trying to hide anything. He's standing on the back of the mound, pulling this card out of his pocket and using it to help us attack hitters. Our catchers have them on their wrists. It doesn't make sense to me, but I understand that rules are in place for a reason, and we have to comply."
Cubs manager Joe Maddon seemed to get a kick out of the situation.
"I think the scouting report may have been written on the back of an emery board," Maddon said, before pausing.
"I'm just kidding. ... I'm sure we'll get a ruling on this in the very near future. As long as you cannot alter the baseball -- I don't know if you rub it 35 times quickly, you might get a sheen on the ball -- but that's a first. That's an absolute first."