Major League Baseball won’t be taking any action against the Cardinals’ Yadier Molina after a wayward pitch stuck to the catcher’s chest protector during Thursday’s 6-4 loss to the Cubs. According to the official rulebook, the use of any foreign substance on a baseball is strictly prohibited, but there are no provisions in place to punish a non-pitcher who is caught with the substance on his person.
That may be why, as both ESPN’s Mark Saxon and the Chicago Tribune’s Mark Gonzales pointed out, the Cubs did not request that home plate umpire Quinn Wolcott inspect the ball shortly after the incident occurred. After the game, Cubs’ outfielder Jason Heyward explained that Molina had probably used something like pine tar or an adhesive spray called Tuf-Skin to get a better grip on the ball, which inadvertently led to the odd play — and, later, a blown lead for the Cardinals.
Both Molina and manager Mike Matheny denied any knowledge of a foreign substance on Molina’s uniform. No in-depth explanation has been offered up by the team so far, and with Major League Baseball backing off, it’s unlikely that they’ll volunteer more details anytime soon. As Matheny relayed to MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch: “I don’t know what happened. I have no idea. I’ve never seen it.”
The Mariners acquired Yankees’ right-hander Nick Rumbelow in exchange for minor league righty Juan Then and left-hander JP Sears, per an official announcement on Saturday. Rumbelow made 17 appearances for the Yankees in 2015 before undergoing Tommy John surgery and could provide some bullpen depth for the Mariners in 2018.
The 26-year-old right-hander spent the majority of his 2017 season in Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, where he delivered an 0.62 ERA, 2.5 BB/9 and 9.3 SO/9 over 29 innings. The Yankees didn’t rush Rumbelow into a full workload after he missed the 2016 season recovering from Tommy John, but he didn’t appear to have any significant setbacks with his health or performance and should be ready to compete for a role next spring.
Sears, 21, was ranked 21st in the Mariners’ organization by MLB Pipeline. He was drafted in the 11th round of the 2017 draft and features a deceptive, low-velocity fastball that he can throw for strikes to either side of the plate. In his first year of pro ball, he split 17 games between Short-Season A Everett and Single-A Clinton, turning in an 0.65 ERA, 3.9 BB/9 and 16.6 SO/9 across two levels.
Then, 17, also completed his first year of pro ball after signing with the Mariners as a free agent. He went 2-2 in 13 games of rookie ball, pitching to a 2.64 ERA, 2.2 BB/9 and 8.2 SO/9 in 61 1/3 innings. Neither Sears nor Then will take the mound for the Yankees anytime soon, and offloading Rumbelow to the Mariners should clear up some room on New York’s 40-man roster as they prepare for the upcoming Rule 5 Draft.