Milwaukee Brewers left-hander Will Smith has been suspended eight games by Major League Baseball for having a foreign substance on his right arm during Thursday night’s game against the Atlanta Braves.
Smith has elected to appeal the suspension, meaning he will be eligible to play until the appeal process is complete.
The fact that Smith is a reliever may help his case to have the ban reduced, as starting pitchers usually miss one or two starts when they are suspended for a similar violation of Major League Baseball’s Rule 8.02(a), which states a pitcher will face an automatic 10-game suspension if they "apply a foreign substance of any kind to the ball."
Based on the length of Smith’s suspension, it seems Major League Baseball did not find the reliever had used the substance on the baseball.
With Atlanta leading 2-1 in the seventh inning Thursday, Smith was pitching to leadoff hitter Jace Peterson when Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez came out of the dugout to make home plate umpire Chris Segal aware of the substance.
Segal then informed crew chief Jim Joyce, who immediately ejected Smith after discovering the substance on his right arm.
After the game, Smith said the substance was a mixture of sunscreen and rosin he applied to his arm to help him grip the baseball while warming up.
"I just forgot to wipe it off before I went out and pitched," Smith said after the game Thursday. "I kind of had to get ready in a hurry and just forgot. That’s it."
Brewers manager Craig Counsell was not pleased with Gonzalez’s decision to approach the umpiring crew, as it is known throughout baseball that pitchers use foreign substances to help with grip.
"It happens everywhere in the league," Counsell said. "And it happens on his team, too."
Some hitters have publicly stated they actually prefer pitchers use foreign substances to improve their grip in order to prevent potential hit by pitches.
"Every pitcher does it," Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Thursday. "As a hitter you want them to do it so they have a better grip, so we don’t get hit in the head . . . but just hide it better next time."
Nonetheless, the Brewers were expecting Smith to be suspended for the incident. Less than 12 hours later, their suspicions were confirmed.