Angels' Donnelly tossed for illegal glove
Umps cite pine tar; Robinson, Scioscia argue, benches empty
ANAHEIM -- Angels reliever Brendan Donnelly was ejected before he threw a pitch Tuesday after Nationals manager Frank Robinson asked the umpires to check the pitcher's glove for foreign substances, leading to an exchange of words between Robinson and Angels manager Mike Scioscia, a brief benches-clearing confrontation and a Nationals' comeback win.The Angels were leading 3-1 in the seventh inning when Scioscia brought in Donnelly with one out and a man on first. As Donnelly warmed up, Robinson came out and talked with home-plate umpire Tim Tschida. Tschida then conferenced with the other umpires and inspected Donnelly's glove. The umpires found pine tar on the glove, violating rule 8.02b, which prohibits a pitcher from having a foreign substance on his person or equipment. "The glove was confiscated and will be sent to Major League Baseball tomorrow," crew chief Dale Scott said, meaning the glove will be inspected by the Commissioner's Office, which will determine possible further penalties, such as a suspension. "Pine tar is not allowed." Robinson also accused Donnelly of using sandpaper, but the umpires said none was found. Scioscia and the Angels were steamed. "Pine tar is accepted practice for pitchers," Scioscia said after the game, which the Nationals won, 6-3. "Pine tar is not doctoring the ball; it's just giving you a normal grip for guys who sweat a lot if it's cold." That conviction led Scioscia to issue a warning to Robinson on the field after the ejection, which incensed the Washington manager, leading both benches to clear. "I told Frank that we were gonna undress his pitchers when they were out on the mound," Scioscia said. "He obviously wasn't happy." Indeed he was not. After the game, Robinson carefully and slowly laid out the following response to Scioscia's comments. "I've known Mike Scioscia for quite a while. I've always respected Mike as a person and a player," Robinson said. "His guy got caught tonight cheating, and he was way off base. He took me by surprise when he came over to me and he gave me a threat and he told me that he was going to have every one of our pitchers undressed." The first one, at least. Prior to the bottom of the seventh, Sciocia asked Tschida to check Nationals pitcher Gary Majewski's glove for foreign substances. Nothing was found, but Robinson took umbrage at the action and at Scioscia's statement that he would have the Nationals' pitchers checked, which Robinson considered a "threat." "I lost a lot of respect for Mike tonight as a person and as a manger and there's nothing he can say to me now," Robinson said. "I don't even want him to come close to me or try to apologize to me. If he even thought about it, I will not accept it." Scioscia was displeased with Robinson's conduct as well. He said that Donnelly had been targeted and that he thought Robinson's decision to have him checked would spark an ugly trend in baseball. "You'll have to have pitchers walk through a metal detector before every game," Scioscia said. "Or have umpires strip-search pitchers every time they come into the game." Scioscia and Robinson weren't the only ones steamed. The Nationals' Jose Guillen -- who played for the Angels until last September, when he was suspended from the team after an extended altercation with Scioscia -- felt that Scioscia had shown up Robinson on the field. No punches were thrown during the scrum after Donnelly's ejection, but Guillen tried to confront Scioscia and needed to be restrained by three Nationals. "You guys saw what happened there," Guillen said. "That's what [ticked] me off. We're talking about respect, and I don't think [Scioscia] showed any respect to Frank. Frank deserves more respect than that." Guillen, who has endured heavy booing by the fans at Angel Stadium all series, hit a game-tying home run in the eighth inning and, after flipping his bat, made a slow, celebratory trot around the bases. He batted again in the ninth, but further incidents were averted, as the Angels pitched to him and he flew out on the first pitch. Donnelly did not throw a pitch in the game, but the Nationals torched the man who relieved him, Scot Shields, for four runs in the eighth en route to the 6-3 win. After the game, Robinson said that he watched video on Donnelly prior and said he saw Donnelly used foreign substances on the mound. Tuesday, Robinson said Donnelly was caught for having pine tar but escaped a potentially more serious violation. "He also had sandpaper on his pitching hand," Robinson said. "He either put it in his back pocket or gave it to [second baseman Adam] Kennedy." Donnelly, while unhappy about the ejection, was very measured with the media after the game Tuesday. When told about Robinson's statement, he first asked the reporter if he was joking. After learning the Nationals manager was serious, Donnelly was surprised and upset. "You know what, that's just a ... lie, that's what it is," Donnelly said. "That's a [darn] lie. Can you write that?" Scioscia found Robinson's statement equally hard to believe. "Are you kidding me?" Scioscia asked. "That's absolutely ridiculous." Scott said that the umpires did not find any sandpaper on Donnelly. "Donnelly did not put up much resistance at all," Scott said. "We don't know anything about any sandpaper." The umpiring crew did not know if there would be a suspension handed down or how long it might be. However, Jay Howell was suspended for three games after being found with pine tar on his hat during Game 3 of the 1988 National League Championship Series, which was played in a cold rain. The penalty was reduced to two games upon appeal. "I don't know what the precedent is," Scioscia said. "This is different than sandpaper, this is different than Vaseline, this is different than whatever pitchers might use to alter the flight of the ball. You have a rosin bag out there. Rosin and water, you're making pine tar." The Angels and Nationals will play for the third and final time this season Wednesday night. Scioscia said the Angels would be ready for any further inspections that might occur. "Obviously, it's something we're gonna have to address with our guys and make sure they don't have any [foreign substances] on there," he said. "It is in the rulebook."
Mark Thoma is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.