Why Yankees-Rays was delayed 16 minutes for a pitching change



The Yankees wanted to give Lucas Luetge a few extra seconds to warm up, but instead they got 16 minutes.

Manager Aaron Boone eventually got to make the pitching change he wanted in the eighth inning of their 4-3 win Wednesday over the Rays, but not before a lengthy delay brought the game to a screeching halt as the umpires conferred with the league office on a rule clarification after a second straight mound visit without any pitches being thrown in between.

“That was brutal,” catcher Kyle Higashioka said. “First of all, I feel like that can’t happen. It can’t take 20-30 minutes or whatever to figure out what’s going on. There’s gotta be somebody that knows what to do.”

Miguel Castro had retired the first two batters of the eighth before getting in trouble when he gave up a double to Manuel Margot and hit Randy Arozarena with a pitch. After pitching coach Matt Blake visited with Castro on the mound as the Rays’ staff tended to Arozarena, Ji-Man Choi was announced as a pinch-hitter. At that point, Higashioka made another mound visit to allow Luetge more time to warm up in the bullpen.

Boone then tried to make the pitching change, but was met by the umpires, who convened for a lengthy meeting to determine whether or not he was allowed to because of Blake’s recent visit.

Aaron Boone talks with home plate umpire Cory Blaser during a delayed pitching change for reliever Lucas Luetge.
Aaron Boone talks with home plate umpire Cory Blaser during a delayed pitching change for reliever Lucas Luetge.
Jason Szenes

“At first they were saying we couldn’t go back out because once [Arozarena] gets hit, that [next] at-bat is now in play so we can’t go out twice within the at-bat,” Boone said. “Well, if you announce a pinch-hitter, you can. And [Blake] was already out there before they announced that pinch-hitter. So that’s what I was getting [at] and making sure we had a rules check on it.”

Crew chief Phil Cuzzi told a pool reporter that the confusion came down to when Choi was announced as the pinch-hitter. Ultimately, they deemed that Blake’s trip to the mound came while Isaac Paredes was still the hitter and that Boone’s came after Choi had been announced as the pinch-hitter.

After Luetge was finally allowed to enter, he gave up back-to-back RBI singles before getting out of the jam.

“I was just playing it by ear,” Luetge said. “I was trying to watch and warm up at the same time.”

Aaron Hicks has not consistently shown the same arm strength after 2019 Tommy John surgery as he did before it, but he recently provided the Yankees some encouragement that he’s still capable of more.

Last Wednesday in Minnesota, Hicks caught the coaching staff’s attention with a throw home from left field that nabbed Gio Urshela at the plate.

“It was eye-opening to us, like, ‘Woah, that’s in there,’ ” Boone said. “We hadn’t seen that arm come back. To see him make that throw, there’s very few people making that throw. That was reminiscent of Aaron when he had that awesome arm. So it’s good to see that’s in there and hopefully we continue to see more and more of that as he gets further removed [from Tommy John surgery] and continues to play.”

Josh Donaldson returned from his one-game suspension (for his “Jackie” comments to White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson), playing third base and going 0-for-3.

The Yankees released Ender Inciarte from his minor league contract. The veteran outfielder had been playing with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, batting .252 with a .744 OPS and four steals across 34 games.


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