Pitchers allowed to use note cards, MLB says
Phillies reliever Davis had scouting report confiscated Saturday
PHILADELPHIA -- On Saturday night, umpire Joe West took Austin Davis' reference card, which the Phillies pitcher had in his back pocket. On Sunday, the Cubs and Phillies were told by Major League Baseball officials that it was OK for Davis to carry the card.
"It's permissible -- I didn't understand why it wasn't permissible," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said Sunday. "As long as [the card] is not attached to some kind of device that can alter or doctor the ball, it's no big deal."
The only condition, which Davis did not violate in the Cubs' 7-1 victory Saturday, is that checking the card cannot delay the game.
"I think it's great that our pitchers are able to have their game plans on them," Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said. "I think it takes a lot of mental focus, takes a lot of bandwidth to get out the best hitters in baseball, and when you can just take a little of that off your mind and put it on a card, I think that's helpful for pitchers and good for baseball."
West based his decision on Rule 6.02(c)(7), which states the pitcher shall not "have on his person, or in his possession, any foreign substance."
Davis twice pulled a piece of paper out of his back pocket Saturday. He studied the sheet before he faced Kristopher Bryant, sticking the paper back in his pocket before he threw a pitch. Davis pulled out the paper again before he faced pinch-hitter Addison Russell.
That is when West approached Davis and confiscated it.
"I know all the players now carry a cheat sheet like this," West said afterward. "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."
Some of the Cubs players do carry scouting reports in their back pockets. Maddon understands why players use them but didn't sound as if he endorsed the idea 100 percent.
"The part I would be concerned with is you take the observation power of the player out of it also to the point where they become so reliant and spoon fed as opposed to understanding what they're seeing in front of them," Maddon said.
"I believe in information, I believe in possibly being reminded but I still like the idea of players looking in the dugout," he said. "I like that connection between on the field and the dugout and your coach."