Brewers pitcher Will Smith had his eight-game suspension lowered to six, but Matusz still must serve all eight games beginning tonight in Cleveland.
MLB doesn’t announce the results of the hearings or offer explanations for reducing or upholding the suspensions.
“Obviously, we’re disappointed,” said executive vice president Dan Duquette. “We didn’t think they had grounds for the suspension. Brian was using rosin, and from my understanding rosin is an approved substance to enhance your grip.”
Matusz was ejected from a May 23 game in Miami after Marlins manager Dan Jennings asked umpires to check the reliever’s right forearm for a foreign substance.
“Frankly, I don’t think they had just cause for the suspension. And I thought the penalty of getting thrown out of the game was appropriate,” Duquette said.
“That was the umpire’s judgement and I’m not sure how he came to that judgement, but I think the proper punishment was for the player to get thrown out of the game if that’s what the umpire judged. I don’t agree with the league. I don’t think they had just cause to suspend Brian. That’s puzzling to me.”
Duquette spoke at Matusz’s hearing Wednesday in Houston. Manager Buck Showalter offered his support by attending it.
“Brian Matusz was simply trying to grip the ball so he could throw an effective pitch,” Duquette said. “That’s not a crime that’s due a suspension from the league, as far as we’re concerned. It wasn’t pine tar, it was rosin and perspiration. He was trying to grip the ball. He wasn’t trying to doctor the ball, which is outside the rules. He was trying to grip the ball, get a consistent grip on the ball, and he used an approved substance.”
The sticking point for the Orioles, so to speak, is how a rosin bag is allowed on the mound, but a player apparently can’t have the substance on his arm.
“I guess you’re only supposed to use it on your hands, which is incredulous. What difference does it make?” Duquette said.
“What difference does it make if it’s an approved substance to help you grip the ball more effectively? And if it’s on your arm, you’re still using it on your hand. Ridiculous argument by the league.”
Smith, ejected two nights before Matusz, claimed that he had rosin and sunscreen on his arm and forgot to wipe it off. The substance was more visible on his arm compared to Matusz.
“Brian Matusz was trying to grip the ball consistently so he could throw strikes,” Duquette said.
As for tonight’s game in Cleveland, Matt Wieters popped up to short, stranding two runners in the first inning in his first at-bat with the Orioles since May 10. Travis Snider and Chris Davis singled.
MLB made a scoring change from the May 30 game against the Rays.
Joey Butler reached in the top of the first inning and Brandon Guyer advanced to third on a play that was scored an infield hit. It’s been changed to a failed fielder’s choice.
There was no error on the play and the run that later scored remains an earned run.
Update: The Orioles took a 2-0 lead in the fourth. With one out, Davis walked and Wieters followed with an RBI double to to left. Wieters moved to third on a groundout by Jimmy Paredes and scored on Ryan Flaherty’s single to center.
Update II: The Indians scored twice off Chris Tillman in the fifth to tie the game, but Adam Jones led off the sixth with a homer to left to put the Orioles up 3-2. It’s Jones’ second straight game with a home run.
Update III: In the eighth, Indians right fielder Brandon Moss misplayed Adam Jones hit into a run-scoring triple and Wieters followed with a sacrifice fly to make it 5-2.
Update IV: The Orioles win 5-2 and Tillman gets the victory.