It’s been two days of chaos, but Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred seems encouraged.
The crackdown on MLB pitchers using foreign substances started on Monday, and even though many managers and pitchers are calling for the league to end on-field checks by umpires and replace them with monitors to conduct inspections in clubhouses, dugouts, and bullpens, Manfred is happy with how everything is coming together so far.
“My view is the first two days have gone very well,” Manfred told The Athletic. “We’ve had no ejections, players, in general, have been extremely cooperative, the inspections have taken place quickly and between innings.”
In one game between the Washington Nationals and Philadelphia Phillies on Tuesday night, Nationals ace Max Scherzer had to participate in the mandatory check under baseball’s new guidelines. The former Cy Young Award winner wasn’t thrilled when the umpires stopped him as he was coming off the mound near the third baseline.
In the middle of the fourth inning, Phillies manager Joe Girardi wanted umpires to check Scherzer again after he nearly hitting then striking out Phillies batter Alec Bohm. Following that incident, Scherzer threw his hat and glove to the ground and took off his belt so the umpires could check.
After the inning was over, Scherzer gave a death stare to Girardi while walking off the mound.
“These are Manfred rules,” Scherzer said after the game, referring to Commissioner Manfred. “Go ask him what he wants to do with this.”
“If I’m a young kid at the game and I’m asking my dad, `Well, hey, what’s going on? Why they getting checked?′ What he’s going to say? `Well, they think everyone’s cheating,” New York Yankees pitcher Zack Britton added on Wednesday. “I mean, is that what we want the game to be about like we’re assuming you’re cheating? I just think it’s a bad look.”
Britton believes the focus should be on growing the sport, not “guys dropping their pants on the field” or “guys throwing their belts off” to show that they aren’t using any foreign substances.
Britton says it’s embarrassing for the game of baseball.
“I just think the optics of it are so bad for baseball,” Britton continued. “Having players checked on the field — we’re talking about that, we’re not talking about Wander Franco’s debut, we’re not talking about how well Gerrit (Cole) threw and how well Max Scherzer threw and all this other stuff around the game.
“That’s not what I want to wake up and read about regarding our game in the morning. But there’s a better way to do it. But it takes more than just me or other players saying it,” Britton said. “It takes talking with MLB and sitting down and hashing something out to where we can enforce rules but not in the way that it’s being enforced.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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