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Yankees starter questioned by Twins for illegal substance

NEW YORK – Domingo German had something on his pitching hand that wasn’t supposed to be there.

That much seemed clear after the New York Yankees starter was ordered by Saturday afternoon’s umpiring crew to wash off whatever it was, during a lengthy discussion just before the fourth inning at Yankee Stadium.

The substance was deemed to be rosin, but it still roiled Rocco Baldelli, who watched German take a perfect game into the sixth inning.

Only, the Twins manager witnessed it from the TV in his office, after being ejected from the game, a 6-1 Yankees win boosted by homers from Kyle Higashioka and Anthony Rizzo and a two-run double by Giancarlo Stanton.

“I don’t think we’ve had something like that before,’’ Higashioka said of a controversy that began after Minnesota’s half of the third inning.

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Essentially, in a routine check, crew chief James Hoye felt there was tack on German’s pitching hand, due to the rosin bag, and ordered him to clean it off before the fourth inning.

Checked again before the fourth, German still had some rosin on his right pinkie but was eventually allowed to continue because it wasn’t a foreign substance.

Anatomy of a Yankees-Twins controversy

German was coming off a dreadful start, five days ago.

On a cool night at Cleveland, the right-hander failed to get through four innings, and walked five batters without recording a strikeout.

Saturday? He was at his very best.

German mowed through the Twins’ lineup, retiring the first 16 batters he faced, 10 of them on strikeouts.

Christian Vazquez broke up the perfect game with a one-out single in the sixth, and German eventually exited after 6.1 innings, yielding one run on three hits, with no walks and career-high 11 strikeouts.

The spin rates on German’s pitches were increased over his first three innings, when he recorded six Ks.

At that point, the rosin controversy began.

“I just told you to clean this up,’’ Hoye said he told German, finding his right pinkie with tack before the fourth inning.

German said he uses a rosin bag between innings in plain sight, but seldom on the mound.

An ‘intense’ discussion

What followed was a conference between all four umpires, German, Spanish interpreter Marlon Abreu and Yankees manager Aaron Boone.

“The discussion, it was intense,’’ German said through Abreu. “There was a moment there that maybe things were going to get out of hand, but I was able to explain and tell them that I have a rosin bag (in the dugout) where I sit all the time.

“(Eventually), they said fine, go back out there and pitch.’’

German and the Yankees insisted the pitcher had cleaned his hands, “but he hits the rosin bag before he comes out,’’ said Boone. “It was enough to raise a flag.’’

Hoye then huddled his crew together, and they agreed “it wasn’t a foreign substance issue that affected the flight of the ball.’’

Sternly, Hoye informed German: “When I tell you to clean, I need you to clean it up.’’

And then Hoye explained it all to Baldelli, who wasn’t buying any of it.

Rocco Baldelli’s argument

“(German) was warned,’’ Baldelli said. “He didn’t fully comply with the warning from what I was told and was still allowed to keep pitching.

“That’s it. I don’t agree with that in principle.’’

Said Hoye: “(Baldelli) felt like this was a stand he needed to make, and so he was ejected from the game.

Hoye was fairly certain this wasn’t a Spider Tack issue, a banned substance (along with the rosin-and-sunscreen combo) that aided pitchers’ grips artificially.

“After doing these checks now for two years, you can get a sense of, ‘OK, that feels like rosin to me, that doesn’t feel like it.’ ’’

Of German’s performance, Baldelli said: “He had especially good command and especially good stuff through the first three innings of the game.

‘There was nothing especially noteworthy except that he was sharp.’’

After dropping the first two games of this four-game set to the Twins (10-5), the Yankees (9-6) will attempt a series split Sunday afternoon, with ace Gerrit Cole pitching against Minnesota’s Opening Day starter Pablo Lopez.

This post appeared first on USA TODAY

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