LOS ANGELES (AP) — Umpires have banned Dodgers manager Dave Roberts from using a positional player to pitch the ninth inning against the New York Mets on Saturday night, enforcing a rule that prevents teams from using non- pitchers with a deficit of five runs or less.
Roberts said he didn’t realize the rule was in effect after it was first adopted before the 2020 season and then suspended for two years amid pandemic-induced rule adjustments.
“It’s a rule that’s obviously in place for 2022. They were talking about it in 2020,” he said. “The goal posts moved a lot. It’s an oversight on my part, but I remember we did it last year. They kind of had to confer to make sure it was the case. They have understood, the referees.
With Los Angeles trailing 9-4, Roberts sent utility player Zach McKinstry to the mound to start the ninth, but McKinstry was stopped by umpires. A long delay and discussion ensued, and the referees used headsets to discuss the situation with officials in New York.
Team manager CB Bucknor announced that McKinstry would not be allowed to pitch, and right-hander Evan Phillips began warming up in the Dodgers bullpen.
Roberts inferred Mets manager Buck Showalter demanded the rule be enforced, but Showalter said umpires acted without his intervention.
“I looked at the scoreboard and thought something was wrong,” Showalter said. “Nine minus four, what’s more than that?” »
When umpires signaled that Phillips needed to move his warm-up pitches to the play mound, bullpen coach Josh Bard ran out of the bullpen and yelled that Phillips wasn’t ready. . Phillips had unlimited time to warm up and the delay lasted about 11 minutes in total.
Showalter shook his head several times and paced in the visitors’ dugout during the delay. He took to the pitch for an explanation from the referees after Bucknor’s announcement, but later said he was not upset that Phillips had had plenty of time to relax.
“I was wondering if the guy they brought in to pitch was eligible to play or if they burned him,” Showalter said.
After position players made 90 pitching appearances in 2019 and 75 in 2018, Major League Baseball and the players’ association agreed before the 2020 season to ban the use of position players as pitchers in games. with a deficit of five points or less. The rule was suspended for the past two years due to concerns over pandemic-induced pitching injuries, but it was reinstated this season.
McKinstry could have pitched in the ninth inning had he been called a two-way player, but the infielder, who was called up Thursday, isn’t. The Dodgers have not designated anyone as a two-way player. McKinstry was moved to third base instead.
“Ideally, I would have liked to have Evan for two (innings) tomorrow. I always try to win a series and not just keep the game close,” Roberts said.
Dodgers starter Walker Buehler made the shortest start of his career, allowing five runs in 2 1/3 innings, and Los Angeles ended up using seven pitchers. Phillips allowed one hit and struck out two in the ninth, and the Dodgers lost 9-4.
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