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Joe West confiscates Gallegos' hat after apparently finding substance

Patrick McDermott / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Umpire Joe West confiscated St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Giovanny Gallegos' hat for apparently having a foreign substance on the bill.

West appeared to spot the substance on Gallegos' red hat while he was jogging in from the bullpen during Wednesday's game against the Chicago White Sox. The ump ordered the hat confiscated so the league could investigate the issue.

While Gallegos was allowed to stay in and pitch with a new hat, West ejected Cardinals manager Mike Shildt after he protested the decision.

West told a pool reporter that he had Gallegos change the cap so he wouldn't be ejected later.

"Rather than get into a confrontation after the fact and put the pitcher in jeopardy, I decided to make him remove the hat so that he doesn't do anything with an illegal substance on his hat," West explained to the Belleville News-Democrat's Jeff Jones. "All I asked him was to change the hat. I don't think he had any problem with it. He said it was sunscreen.

"When Mike (Shildt) got upset about it, I don't think he really knew what we were doing. I was just trying to keep the pitcher in the game."

West added MLB's "compliance officer" has already retrieved the hat from the umpire's locker room, as is standard in these situations. It's now en route to the league office in New York for further investigation.

Several members of the Cardinals were upset with the umpiring crew for their actions. Starter John Gant called West's actions "BS," while star pitcher Jack Flaherty admonished the umpiring crew on Twitter:

"This is baseball's dirty little secret, and it was the wrong time to expose it," Shildt said, according to ESPN's Jesse Rogers. "Gio wears the same hat every game."

Pine tar and sunscreen are two of the most common foreign substances pitchers use to get a better grip on the baseball. Because they are classified as a foreign substance, they're illegal to use. Historically, pitchers who have displayed such substances in too obvious a fashion on either their uniform or body have been ejected.

MLB has stepped up its enforcement of the use of foreign substances this season and has started using StatCast to try and catch cheating pitchers.

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