Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Bat of Castellanos - Removal vs Ejection Criteria

After Reds batter Nick Castellanos hit a grand slam in Cincinnati, Cardinals manager Mike Shildt asked HP Umpire Cory Blaser and crew to inspect the bat, hoping for a finding of illegal alteration and an automatic out (plus ejection). Instead, umpires simply removed the bat from the game. What's the rule?

Official Baseball Rule 3.02(b): Two rules potentially govern this play. The first is OBR 3.02(b) regarding cupped bats and states, "An indentation in the end of the bat up to 1¼ inches in depth is permitted and may be no wider than two inches and no less than one inch in diameter. The indentation must be curved with no foreign substance added."

Official Baseball Rule 6.03(a)(5): This rule regarding illegal bats states that a batter is out and ejected from the game, while no advancement on the bases will be allowed, if the batter "uses or attempts to use a bat that, in the umpire’s judgment, has been altered or tampered with in such a way to improve the distance factor or cause an unusual reaction on the baseball. This includes bats that are filled, flat-surfaced, nailed, hollowed, grooved or covered with a substance such as paraffin, wax, etc."

Analysis: Castellanos' bat appeared to have a chip in it along its cupped end, bringing it into violation of 3.02(b)'s depth rule. The only question is whether the umpires judged that Cincinnati had deliberately altered or tampered with the bat to cause that to happen—and furthermore—with the goal of improving its performance and gaining an unfair advantage.

Conclusion: After consultation with Replay Review for a rules check, Crew Chief Phil Cuzzi simply ordered the bat removed from the game, but did not eject Castellanos or declare any outs on the play because the umpires' judgment did not deem a deliberate attempt to tamper with the bat to create an unfair advantage.

Video as follows:

Alternate Link: A deep drive into left field by Nick Castellanos leads to bat inspection delay (CIN/CCS)


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