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Mets reliever Drew Smith ejected from Subway Series game vs. Yankees for illegal substance

New York Mets v Atlanta Braves

ATLANTA, GA - JULY 13: Drew Smith #62 of the New York Mets pitches during the eighth inning against the Atlanta Braves at Truist Park on July 13, 2022 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)

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Drew Smith became the second New York Mets pitcher to get ejected this season for using an illegal foreign substance when he was tossed from their Subway Series opener Tuesday night against the Yankees at Citi Field.

The reliever never even threw a pitch. He was checked by umpires as he entered in the top of the seventh inning with the Mets trailing by one run and never made it to the mound.

“They said both of my hands were too sticky,” Smith said following his team’s 7-6 loss. “Really surprised, because I haven’t done anything different all year. Sweat and rosin. I don’t know what else to say. Nothing changed. It’s just, I think the process is so arbitrary. It can change from one crew to the other and I think that’s the main issue.”

Smith was stopped for a routine check as he reached the infield. Within moments, several umpires and teammates were huddled around the right-hander, and Mets manager Buck Showalter came out of the dugout to join the discussion.

Smith held out his pitching hand and pleaded his case, but was ejected by first base umpire Bill Miller, the crew chief.

“Drew Smith was ejected because he had sticky hands,” Miller told a pool reporter. “I don’t know what’s on his hand, all I know it was sticky - sticky to the touch. It stuck to my hands when I touched it. Not only his pitching hand, but his glove hand as well.”

Miller said Smith’s hand was the stickiest he’s felt this season, and that the other three umpires agreed.

“I think if something’s sticky, it’s illegal,” Miller said. “They cannot manipulate the rosin. They can’t use foreign substance. I don’t know what was on his hand. But his hand was sticky to the touch, where my hand stuck to his hand.”

Max Scherzer, who started Tuesday night for the Mets, served a 10-game suspension after being ejected April 19 at Dodger Stadium for having an illegal sticky substance on his hand. Scherzer claimed it was simply a mix of sweat and rosin, nothing illegal.

Smith likely faces a 10-game suspension as well, a significant blow to a thin and shaky Mets bullpen.

“I think we’re all angry about this one. You feel his hand, you don’t feel anything,” Scherzer said. “He’s been cleared by every other umpire and now all of a sudden he’s getting thrown out. I double down on this in saying that there’s got to be a spin-rate component to getting an ejection.

“I mean, he hasn’t even thrown a pitch. How do you know he’s increasing his spin rate? You don’t know that. It’s subjective to what the umpire thinks. So until he’s actually guilty of actually increasing his spin rate or doing something to the ball, how can we sit here and say that?”

New York Yankees pitcher Domingo Germán was ejected from a May 16 game in Toronto for using a foreign substance on the mound and suspended 10 games by Major League Baseball the following day.

He was the fourth pitcher suspended since MLB began cracking down on foreign substances in June 2021. In 2021, Seattle’s Hector Santiago and Arizona’s Caleb Smith served suspensions for illegal sticky substances.

“This is a dangerous issue to sit here and keep cracking down on pitchers, because we need grip to be able to throw the baseball. If not, it ends up at the hitter’s head,” Scherzer said. “So this isn’t just a black-and-white issue. This is a gray issue and it’s complex and I know we’re all very frustrated, because it doesn’t appear that Drew violated any rule.”

Scherzer said he spoke with Smith and planned to contact the players’ union to “figure out what we can do.”

Scherzer chose not to appeal his suspension in April because that’s what the Mets preferred and he didn’t think the rules of the process gave him much chance to win.