BALTIMORE — Orioles pitcher Brian Matusz has received an eight-game suspension from Major League Baseball for having a foreign substance on his arm during Saturday’s loss to the Miami Marlins.
The suspension was announced prior to Monday’s series opener against the Houston Astros.
The lefty reliever will appeal the suspension and will be allowed to continue to pitch until his case is heard. The Orioles would play a player short on their 25-man roster should Matusz’s suspension — or any part of it — be upheld.
“I’m not going to try to justify anything. It’s a deeper issue,” manager Buck Showalter told reporters before Sunday’s game in Miami. “It’s the same reason why hitters have pine tar. Why is there rosin on the field? Why do we put mud on the ball? We all understand that the crux of the problem is gripping the ball.”
Matusz was ejected in the bottom of the 12th inning of Saturday’s 1-0 loss after Marlins manager Dan Jennings requested that the umpiring crew take a look at the pitcher’s right forearm. It is believed that Matusz had rosin on his arm with some sunscreen potentially mixed with the substance.
While a clear violation of the rulebook, it’s no secret that many major league pitchers use substances to help improve their grip of the baseball. Showalter defended New York Yankees pitcher Michael Pineda last year when he was suspended for using pine tar against Boston, citing the need for pitchers to be able to better grip the baseball for safety concerns. The Baltimore manager has periodically cited the tacky covering on Japanese baseballs as an example of what MLB should use rather than the traditional mud to rub down baseballs.
Matusz had never been ejected from a game in his career. He is the second major league pitcher this week to be suspended eight games for having a foreign substance on his arm, joining Milwaukee left-hander Will Smith.
NOTES: Right-hander Bud Norris (bronchitis) will continue his minor league rehab assignment with a start at Double-A Bowie on Wednesday. Originally a candidate to be activated for Thursday’s doubleheader, Norris will continue rebuilding his strength after surrendering nine runs and 12 hits in 2 2/3 innings for Triple-A Norfolk on Friday. … Right-handed pitcher Tyler Wilson remains a candidate to be called up on Thursday and pitched an abbreviated start for Norfolk on Monday. Lefty T.J. McFarland is another candidate to start one of Thursday’s games. Mike Wright will start one of the two games against the Chicago White Sox. … Still recovering from right shoulder tendinitis, right-handed pitcher Kevin Gausman will throw a bullpen session Tuesday, face live hitters on Friday, and pitch two innings in a simulated game on June 2. … Matt Wieters (right elbow) will catch pitching prospect Dylan Bundy as he finally begins his rehab assignment on Tuesday. … Infielder Ryan Flaherty (groin) began a rehab assignment at Norfolk on Monday.