Orioles pitcher Brian Matusz suspended eight games, but immediately appeals
BALTIMORE — Orioles left-hander Brian Matusz was suspended for eight games by Major League Baseball on Monday for having a foreign substance on his arm during a game in Miami.
Matusz immediately appealed and was in uniform for Baltimore's game against the Houston Astros on Monday afternoon. He will continue to pitch until his appeal is heard.
Matusz entered Saturday's game against the Marlins in the 12th inning. Miami manager Dan Jennings asked umpire Paul Emmel to inspect Matusz's right arm, and Emmel ejected the pitcher.
"I went out there and told the pitcher I was going to touch his right forearm," Emmel said after the game. "That's where he was touching before he went to the ball. I detected a foreign substance, so the pitcher was ejected."
There was no telling when the appeal would be heard, although Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette suspected a date would be set sometime this week.
Milwaukee Brewers reliever Will Smith was suspended for eight games on Friday for having a foreign substance on his right arm during a game at Atlanta. Smith appealed the sentence, and has not yet had a hearing.
"I'm more focused on getting through today, try to win a game, and see what each day brings," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said before Monday's game. "It's completely in their hands. I don't know what they're going to do. But we have to be ready to react quickly."
If Matusz is suspended, he cannot be replaced on the 25-man roster. Therefore the Orioles will have only 24 players available.
Matusz is 1-2 with a 3.18 ERA in 14 games. He has limited left-handed batters to a .185 batting average.
Showalter said the length of the suspension probably had much to do with the sentence Smith received.
"They're basing it off precedent," the manager said. "Each case is different; that's why you have the appeal process. To make sure it's not just some blanket punishment. You've got to start somewhere and work from there."
Speaking before Boston faced Minnesota on the road Monday, Red Sox manager John Farrell said pitchers caught using a foreign substance are probably trying to get a better grip on the ball, rather than make it move differently.
"I don't think a grip gives you an ability to make the ball do different things," said Farrell, a major league pitcher for eight seasons. "You're looking for feel in the hand, overall command and a grip. I think even if you ask a hitter, they're not going to say a substance makes the ball do different things. It's not like scuffing it."
"Pitchers, they're trying to grip the ball so they can make an effective pitch," Duquette said. "I think that Brian Matusz's intent was that he wanted to grip the ball to make pitch."
In the wake of what happened to Smith and Matusz, Farrell expressed hope that MLB could do something that would enable pitchers to get a better grip — within the rules.
"I would like to see an approved substance that pitchers can use," he said. "When you take a manufactured baseball and rub it with dirt, it's going to create a slippery feel to it."