Sports

Astros pitcher Ronel Blanco suspended 10 games by MLB for foreign substance found in glove

HOUSTON — (AP) — Astros pitcher Ronel Blanco received a 10-game suspension Wednesday for violating Major League Baseball rules prohibiting foreign substances.

Blanco was ejected from Tuesday night's start against the Oakland Athletics. His penalty, which also included an undisclosed fine, was announced by MLB senior vice president of on-field operations Michael Hill.

Houston general manager Dana Brown said Blanco will not appeal the suspension, which was set to begin Wednesday night against Oakland.

“Initially, he was thinking about appealing, and then him and his agent said, ‘Look, I want to get back out there. I’m not going to appeal this.’ And he’s going to move forward,” Brown said.

Blanco threw a no-hitter in his season debut and is 4-0 with a 2.09 ERA this season. With the Astros using a six-man rotation, Brown said the right-hander will probably only miss one turn.

“Ronel Blanco is a good human being,” Brown said. “He’s a good dude. He’s worked his butt off to get into the starting rotation. I think he sees it as, look, I don’t want to be out. I don’t want to extend this any longer. I want to get back to the business of pitching."

Blanco was ejected at the start of the fourth inning during a 2-1 win over Oakland after umpires found a foreign substance that first base umpire Erich Bacchus said was "the stickiest stuff" he's felt on a glove.

Third base umpire and crew chief Laz Diaz ejected Blanco after a check of his glove before he threw a pitch in the fourth. The umpires, Blanco and Houston manager Joe Espada stood at the mound for a couple of minutes discussing the issue before the pitcher was tossed.

Bacchus said there was nothing on Blanco’s glove when he checked it in the middle of the first, but he discovered the substance when he did his second check before the fourth.

“I felt something inside the glove,” Bacchus said. “It was the stickiest stuff I’ve felt on a glove since we’ve been doing this for a few years now.”

After Bacchus discovered the substance, he called in the rest of the crew to confer.

“Everybody checked the glove to make sure we all had the same thing and he had to get ejected because he had a foreign substance on his glove,” Diaz said.

Brown said the ejection is “an umpire’s judgement where he felt like he felt some sticky stuff, so they don’t get into what it actually was. They said he was suspended because of that.”

However, Brown did point out that Blanco has “massive sweat."

“I would think that they thought it was more than rosin, but from our perspective, I know if you guys notice that Ronel sweats profusely,” Brown said. “And I think it was a combination of the rosin and the sweat, and it’s an umpire’s call. He made the judgement that he thought it was sticky substance, so we are at the mercy of what his judgement is. From our perspective, this is a guy who sweats a ton, and when you combine the sweat and the rosin, we felt like maybe that’s what they felt is sticky.”

After the game Tuesday, Blanco denied using an illegal substance.

“Just probably rosin I put on my left arm,” he said in Spanish through a translator. “Maybe because of the sweat it got into the glove and that’s maybe what they found.”

Espada added that when he went to the mound he saw “white powder” inside Blanco’s glove.

“It looked to me when I grabbed the glove (that) there was some rosin,” Espada said. “You’re not allowed to use rosin on your non-pitching hand and that’s what it looked like to me. It was a little bit sticky with the moisture and the sweat but that’s what it looked like to me.”

Blanco allowed four hits and struck out one in three scoreless innings Tuesday.

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AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB

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