Mariners’ Hector Santiago becomes first MLB pitcher ejected under new foreign substance protocols

This past Monday, MLB started its plan to go heavy handed with checking pitchers for the use of foreign substances. For the most part, we’ve seen pitchers and umpires kind of laughing through the exercise, though some have acted a bit dramatic about it

Sunday, we got our first ejection. Mariners pitcher Hector Santiago in Seattle’s game against the White Sox. 

Under the crackdown, any sort of foreign substance anywhere on the pitcher, his glove, his hat, his belt buckle, etc. carries an automatic ejection. The league office will now examine the glove — obviously that’s where the umpires found something they deemed as a rules violation — and determine whether the ejection was warranted or not. If the league concludes that Santiago was violating the rule, he’ll be suspended for 10 days with pay.

As part of the deal, the Mariners won’t be allowed to replace him on the active roster, which means they’ll be down one pitcher spot for 10 days. 

By way of reminder, Rule 6.02(c)(7) says: 

The pitcher shall not have on his person, or in his possession, any foreign substance. 

This rule has been on the books for decades, but things started to get out of control with pitchers taking far too much of the leeway they were given. As a result, MLB issued a memo in the spring to ramp down the use of substances and that didn’t work, so the league mandated that umpires would start checking pitchers on the field, starting this past Monday. As noted, Santiago is the first pitcher ejected under the new protocols. 

The surprising Mariners entered play on Sunday three games over .500 at 40-37. That was only good for third place and eight games out in the AL West, but they’re within five games of a wild card spot, which means they have to be considered a contender. Knowing this, the Mariners having to play without one pitcher for 10 days would be a pretty significant team punishment. 

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