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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Umpires barred Dodgers manager Dave Roberts from using a position player to pitch the ninth inning against the New York Mets on Saturday night, enforcing a rule Roberts apparently did not know that prevents teams from using non-pitchers with a deficit of five runs or fewer.
With Los Angeles trailing 9-4, Roberts sent utility player Zach McKinstry to the mound to begin the ninth, but McKinstry was halted by umpires. A lengthy delay and discussion followed, and umpires used headsets to discuss the situation with officials in New York.
Crew chief C.B. Bucknor announced that McKinstry would not be allowed to pitch, and right-hander Evan Phillips began warming in the Dodgers bullpen.
When umpires signaled that Phillips needed to relocate his warm-up throws to the game mound, bullpen coach Josh Bard jogged out of the bullpen and screamed that Phillips wasn’t ready. Phillips was given unlimited time to warm up, and the delay lasted around 11 minutes in total.
Mets manager Buck Showalter shook his head repeatedly and paced in the visiting dugout during the delay. He walked onto the field for an explanation from umpires after Bucknor’s announcement, but said later he was not upset that Phillips was given full time to loosen up.
After position players made 90 pitching appearances in 2019 and 75 in 2018, Major League Baseball and the players association agreed prior to the 2020 season to outlaw using position players as pitchers in games with a deficit of five runs or fewer. The rule was suspended the past two years amid concerns over pitcher injuries prompted by the pandemic, but it was restored this season.
McKinstry could have pitched in the ninth inning if he was designated as a two-way player, but the infielder, who was called up on Thursday, is not. The Dodgers do not have anyone designated as a two-way player. McKinstry was moved to third base instead.
Dodgers starter Walker Buehler made the shortest start of his career, allowing five runs in 2 1/3 innings, and Los Angeles ended up using seven pitchers. Phillips allowed one hit and struck out two in the ninth, and the Dodgers lost 9-4.
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