Like a student trying to gain an edge on a final exam, Philadelphia Phillies reliever Austin Davis referred to a cheat sheet on the mound Saturday as he faced the Chicago Cubs.
Umpire Joe West reacted like a testing-room proctor, taking the piece of paper away from the left-handed rookie.
Davis, who wasn’t ejected, was using notes from Phillies scouts on how to pitch to Cubs batters. West ruled the paper to be a violation of Rule 6.02(c)(7), which prohibits a pitcher from having “on his person, or in his possession, any foreign substance.”
“I know all the players now carry a cheat sheet like this,” West said, according to MLB.com. “Until the office tells me, I can’t let the pitcher do it. I can’t let him do it. I saw him take it out and I went, ‘What the heck is that?’ I said, ‘You can have it back after the game, but you can’t have it now.’ I didn’t want to throw him out. I know it’s foreign, but he’s not trying to cheat.”
Davis still wound up throwing two innings and allowing two unearned runs to close out Philadelphia’s 7-3 home loss.
Davis said of the cheat sheet, “This is something I create. We have our meeting where we go over the hitters. I take that information and put it on a card so I don’t have to try and memorize it, and use my mental energy to get ready for the game. Then I just take a glance and go.
“Our analytics department works really, really hard to come up with this stuff for us, and I want to use it because they work all day to come up with stuff to help get guys out. And if I have an answer to get a guy out, I want to know what that is.”
First-year Phillies manager Gabe Kapler told reporters that other Phillies outfielders and infielders use similar sheets, adding that Arizona Diamondbacks veteran pitcher Zack Greinke does so, too.
“I think it’s actually a really good thing for baseball,” Kapler said. “I don’t really quite understand [the confiscation]. I mean, it’s not like he’s trying to hide anything. He’s standing on the back of the mound, pulling this card out of his pocket and using it to help us attack hitters.
“Our catchers have them on their wrists. It doesn’t make sense to me, but I understand that rules are in place for a reason, and we have to comply.”
Cubs manager Joe Maddon said, tongue in cheek, that he wasn’t bothered by Davis’ paper as long as the pitcher wasn’t using it to scuff the ball.