Brewers reliever Will Smith was ejected from Thursday’s game against the Braves in the bottom of the seventh inning after he was found to have a foreign substance on his non-throwing arm.
Smith entered the game in relief of Matt Garza and hit Pedro Ciriaco with a pitch before throwing a first-pitch strike to Jace Peterson. Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez then asked the umpires to check for a substance near Smith’s right wrist/forearm area. It looked a lot like Vaseline, which he could use to change the movement of his pitches. Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel notes that Smith was furious after he was ejected and was gesturing toward the Braves’ dugout as he walked off the field.
Below is a video of the exchange as well as a picture of the substance on Smith’s arm. It’s not hard to spot.
Here’s the explanation from Smith, who said he was only using the substance for grip:
And here are some interesting thoughts from Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman. Similar to the Michael Pineda situation from last year, it’s all quite silly when you really think about it:
With just over a week left in the regular season, the Diamondbacks have elected to shut down infielder/outfielder Ketel Marte. Marte has been dealing with some lower back inflammation and stiffness over the last few days; on Friday, the team revealed that he was diagnosed with a stress reaction as well.
It doesn’t look as though the injury will compromise Marte’s 2020 campaign, but as Craig noted on Wednesday, his absence will likely have some effect on his NL MVP candidacy. The 25-year-old will wrap his first All-Star season with a .329/.389/.592 batting line, 32 home runs, a .981 OPS, and a staggering, career-best 7.1 fWAR through 628 plate appearances.
Marte told reporters Thursday that the back pain had been an issue “for the past two months,” though he didn’t comment on the severity of the injury. Despite his ability to play through the pain since July, the issue has clearly escalated in the last week or so. Although the loss of their most valuable contributor may have a negative impact on the D-backs’ chances of competing in the postseason, it’s undeniably a wise move to let Marte recuperate rather than pushing him to play for another week and running the risk of further injury.
Entering Friday’s series against the Padres — their last road series of the regular season — Arizona still has a sizable gap to close in order to earn one of two NL wild card spots. They’re five games out of postseason contention, with the Nationals, Brewers, Cubs, Mets, and Phillies ahead of them.