LOS ANGELES -- 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 he was halted by umpires. A lengthy delay and discussion followed, and umpires got on the headsets to discuss the situation with the review center in New York.
Crew chief C.B. Bucknor announced that McKinstry would not be allowed to pitch, and reliever Evan Phillips began warming in the Dodgers bullpen. Umpires then signaled that he needed to relocate his warm-up throws to the game mound, prompting bullpen coach Josh Bard to jog out of the bullpen and scream at umpires that Phillips wasn't ready.
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.
Phillips allowed one hit and struck out two. The Dodgers ended up losing 9-4.