Umpire overruled after checking Reds' closer Alexis Diaz for sticky stuff

Much ado about nothing.

Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Alexis Diaz (43)
Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Alexis Diaz (43) / Sam Greene/The Enquirer / USA TODAY

There was a strange moment in the Cincinnati Reds series clinching win over the Philadelphia Phillies on Wednesday night at Citizen's Bank Park. The Reds played add-on in the top of the ninth inning thanks to a Nick Martini RBI, stretching their two-run lead to three.

With a 4-1 lead in the ninth, Reds manager David Bell called upon his closer, Alexis Diaz, to dispatch of the Phillies hitters. But Diaz was interrupted on his way to the mound by second base umpire Bill Miller.

Something Miller saw during during his inspection of Diaz's glove raised suspicion. He then called over his cadre of other umpires to see if they noticed anything dubious. Whatever grabbed Miller's attention was not an issue for the other three umpires and Diaz was allowed to pitch in the ninth inning. The right-hander recorded his first save of the season and the 48th of his career.

Umpire overruled after checking Reds' closer Alexis Diaz for sticky stuff

But what caused Miller to halt Diaz's warmup? The Reds closer, along with his interpreter Jorge Merlos, was interviewed by Bally Sports' Jim Day after the game. Through Merlos, Diaz stated, "The one umpire said I had something there and when all the other umpires looked at they (found) it was nothing too crazy. Go let him pitch."

Whatever Miller thought he saw was of no concern to the other umpires. Major League Baseball made it a point of emphasis a few years back to crack down on the use of 'sticky stuff' or anything that would add tackiness to the ball and enable the pitcher to gain better grip or increase the spin-rate on a breaking ball.

There've been a few offenders in the past couple of years. If it's determined that a pitcher is using an illegal foreign substance, the umpires can immediately eject the player and he'll then face a suspension.

Diaz has never been cited for this issue in the past, so it seems like a misunderstanding or an isolated incident. With the all the injuries the Reds have faced to begin the 2024 season, the last thing they needed was to lose their top reliever due to a 'sticky stuff' infraction. But all is well, and it appears that Diaz will avoid any further punishment.

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