MIAMI — Don’t be so fast to label Miami Marlins right-hander Alex Sanabia the majors’ latest spitballer.
Social media was abuzz on Tuesday after TV cameras caught Sanabia on Monday spitting on a baseball after giving up a home run to Philadelphia’s Domonic Brown in the second inning of Miami’s 5-1 victory.
The video shows Sanabia spitting on and then rubbing a new ball as he walks onto the mound.
Rule 8.02(a)(2) in the Official Baseball Rules includes a phrase that says a pitcher can not “expectorate on the ball, either hand or glove.”
A comment beneath adds that if a pitcher violates the rule but in the judgment of the umpire did not intend to alter a pitch, the umpire can warn the pitcher instead of ejecting him from the game.
Sanabia didn’t want to talk before Tuesday night’s game, but neither manager thought the pitcher’s action was a big deal.
“I guess when that happened, (umpire) Joe (West) threw that ball out,” Marlins manager Mike Redmond said. “I guess he must have seen it.
“I think obviously it was unintentional. Sanabia was rubbing the ball. I don’t think it was an intentional thing. I think he just did it without even knowing it.”
A source who spoke to one of the umpires said West did not see Sanabia spit on the ball following Brown’s home run but caught the pitcher going to his mouth while on the mound before immediately rubbing the baseball — also a no-no — at another point in the game.
Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said he didn’t see Sanabia spit on the ball but shrugged off the incident