MLB suspends Astros pitcher Ronel Blanco for 10 games after sticky substance found during last start

HOUSTON — Major League Baseball suspended Astros pitcher Ronel Blanco for 10 games Wednesday, a day after umpires discovered a sticky substance on his glove during a start against the Oakland A’s.

General manager Dana Brown said Blanco will not appeal the suspension, meaning he is eligible to return on May 26. After his expulsion Tuesday, Blanco said through an interpreter that he planned to appeal any potential suspension.

“Ronel Blanco is a good human being. He’s a good guy. He’s worked hard to get into the starting rotation, Brown said Wednesday. “I think he sees it as, ‘Look, I don’t want to be out or prolong this any longer. I want to get back to the pitching business. I think that’s probably what led to most of this.

Blanco declined to comment ahead of Wednesday’s game against the A’s. The team cannot replace him on its active roster during the suspension, depleting an already threadbare pitching staff through 16 straight games without a day off.

Blanco was ejected from Tuesday’s game after first base umpire Erich Bacchus said he found “the stickiest substance I’ve felt on a glove since we’ve been doing this.” Blanco and Astros manager Joe Espada claimed the substance was rosin mixed with sweat. Crew chief Laz Diaz told a pool reporter Tuesday that his team didn’t believe it was rosin.

The referees sent Blanco’s glove for further examination by the commissioner’s office, but the league did not specify what it found when announcing the suspension. Brown said the league has not released what it found on Blanco’s glove.

“I think they thought it was more than just rosin,” Brown said. “…I think it was a combination of rosin and sweat and that’s a referees decision. He judged it to be a sticky substance. We are at the mercy of his judgment.

Rule 6.02(d) states that pitchers are not permitted “to apply the rosin from the bag to his glove or to dust any part of his uniform with the rosin bag.” Blanco and Espada acknowledged Tuesday night that Blanco was unaware of the rule.

“All these guys get information and they’re told about the rules of the league — whether it’s the field clock, timing, (foreign) substances,” Brown said. “They receive all the documents. They all get an explanation of what it is. At the end of the day, he did what he did and we have to move forward.

Espada added: “We will review (the rules), but when we get that memo in spring training, we go over those rules with the pitchers and the position players – the clocks, the dropouts, all the changes periods that occur during the offseason. . But we will make sure to talk about it with everyone.

Blanco has been the Astros’ best starter this season, emerging from relative obscurity to stabilize a spiraling rotation. He lowered his ERA to 2.09 with three scoreless innings Tuesday. Only six qualified starters have a better one.

Seven of Houston’s 17 wins this season came in games started by Blanco, including a 2-1 win in 10 innings Tuesday after he was ejected.

Given that the Astros planned to field a six-man rotation during this extended stretch of games, it’s possible that Blanco only misses one scheduled start during his suspension. A scheduled day off on May 23 – three days before Blanco’s suspension ends – is also well timed.

Still, Blanco’s absence highlights the complete lack of pitching depth. The team now has just five healthy major league starters on its 40-man roster.

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(Photo: Sarah Stier/Getty Images)