Zach Eflin had his way with the Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday, but the afternoon didn’t come without a bizarre incident.
Major League Baseball has made multiple efforts to crack down on foreign substances, including the use of sticky stuff from pitchers. There have been times when players blatantly have been caught using foreign substances to help them gain a better grip on the ball.
But the 2023 season has seen some strange incidents. New York Mets pitcher Max Scherzer lit up in a rage over getting ejected for allegedly using sticky substances, and he received a 10-game suspension April 20.
The umpires at Tropicana Field were inspecting Eflin prior to the second inning, and they appeared to instruct the Tampa Bay Rays pitcher to take off his wedding ring. The right-hander obliged and took off his silicon ring.
The announcers suspected the umpires thought Eflin was wearing a metal ring, which, in theory, would allow a pitcher to make scratches on the ball, which would help them in some way. That clearly wasn’t the case here since the ring was not metal, and it was in his glove hand.
Former Boston Red Sox third baseman and NESN analyst Will Middlebrooks threw in a joke that perhaps MLB was cracking down on the fact that players should only be married to the game before pointing out how excessive the decision was.
Eflin pitched seven scoreless innings and struck out 10 batters while giving up three hits. So if the 29-year-old was gaining an advantage with his ring, it didn’t matter when he took it off.