Rosin issue irks Baldelli, leads to ejection

Twins skipper miffed over umpires allowing Germán to continue following inspections

April 15th, 2023

NEW YORK -- The Twins’ postgame clubhouse on Saturday afternoon housed a mixture of quiet agitation, frustration and confusion -- and it didn’t have much to do with the final score in a 6-1 loss to the Yankees that snapped their four-game winning streak.

Some players voiced suspicions that New York starter Domingo Germán’s pitches were moving more than they expected in a dominant outing, perhaps wondering about foreign substances that could have impacted his pitches. In reality, that was a different point of contention from the argument that culminated in an ejection for Minnesota manager Rocco Baldelli before the fourth inning at Yankee Stadium.

Baldelli took issue with the fact that Germán had been asked to rid his hands of an excess amount of rosin -- a permitted substance -- but the right-hander had re-emerged with some rosin remaining on his pitching hand. The skipper felt the inability to fully comply should have led to Germán’s removal from the game, and took issue when he was allowed to continue pitching.

“Their pitcher was asked to do something pertaining to a rule that’s been a focal point of a lot of discussion, and he failed to do what he was asked to do: Rid himself of something that he was carrying on his hand,” Baldelli said. “That’s all.”

Germán had retired the first nine Twins hitters before first-base umpire and crew chief James Hoye conducted a thorough examination of  Germán’s hands and glove as he walked off the field following the third inning. Hoye told a pool reporter that he felt tackiness from rosin and asked Germán to wash it off to avoid even the possibility of any issue.

When Germán emerged to pitch the fourth inning after hitting a rosin bag in the Yanks’ dugout, Hoye intercepted him for another check and said he found some tackiness on Germán’s pinky, prompting a lengthy conference involving Germán, manager Aaron Boone and several Yankees players. The umpires convened separately before Hoye allowed Germán to remain in the game.

“So he washed his hands off, but before he goes out, he hits the rosin because he doesn't go to the rosin a lot on the mound, which was something that got their attention,” Boone said.

That was the essence of the disagreement, according to Hoye and Baldelli: The Twins’ skipper felt the need for a second lengthy conversation should have led to an ejection for noncompliance. The umpires didn’t eject Germán because they didn’t feel the rosin to be a foreign substance that would impact the flight of the ball.

“The most important part of the reason he wasn’t ejected was because it wasn’t determined to be a foreign substance and it did not rise to that level of stickiness on his hand,” second-base umpire D.J. Reyburn said.

“I was able to explain and tell them I have a rosin bag that's in the area of the dugout, where I sit all the time,” Germán said through an interpreter. “He was able to talk that over, understand and reason.”

At that point, Baldelli emerged from his dugout with the aim of being ejected for the first time this season and for the 10th time in his career.

Germán remained stingy following the chaos, retiring the next seven Twins as he opened his outing by retiring 16 in a row before singles by Christian Vázquez and Michael A. Taylor broke up his bid for a perfect game in the top of the sixth inning.

Both Byron Buxton and Trevor Larnach suggested after the game that they felt Germán’s pitch movement to be anomalous compared to what they were expecting from scouting reports, even before the checks began -- and their suspicions compounded when the conversations occurred.

On average, Germán’s four-seam fastball carried one extra inch of vertical break and three extra inches of horizontal break as compared to his season average, with slightly added spin, but the movement and spin on his curveball weren’t markedly up.

“It's one thing for some guys to have their numbers up one day,” Larnach said. “And then it's another thing for their numbers to be up, and their manager and the umpires are all talking.”

They stopped short of making any overt accusations -- but also took issue with the idea that the multiple discussions didn’t lead to an ejection.

“Not saying he's doing anything bad, but it's not a good look,” Buxton said.

“I think everybody respects the fact that Rocco showed major frustration,” Larnach said.