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Shildt rips umps for taking hat, calls substances 'baseball's dirty little secret'

Jonathan Daniel / Getty Images Sport / Getty

St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Shildt was left fuming after umpires forced reliever Giovanny Gallegos to change his hat during Wednesday's game against the Chicago White Sox.

Second-base umpire Dan Bellino noticed some kind of substance on the brim of Gallegos's hat as the pitcher entered the game in the seventh inning. Third-base ump Joe West then asked Gallegos to change his hat. Eventually, a confused Shildt erupted on the field, and West ejected him.

Following his team's 4-0 win, Shildt blasted the umpires for their actions, which he believes held no merit based on the lone spot on Gallegos' hat. While he did not specify what the substance was, he hinted it could have been something like sunscreen or rosin rather than pine tar.

"Why do I take exception to (what they did?) Because this (pitchers using substances) is baseball's dirty little secret, and it's the wrong time and the wrong arena to expose it," Shildt said during a nearly five-minute rant.

"First of all, Gio wears the same hat all year. Hats accrue dirt. Hats accrue substances, you know, like just stuff. We pitched in a day game. So, did Gio have some sunscreen at some point in his career to ... make sure he doesn't get some kind of melanoma? Possibly. Does he use rosin to help (his grip)? Possibly. Are these things that baseball really wants to crack down on? No. It's not. I know that completely first-hand from the commissioner's office."

Shildt went on to defend Gallegos, saying that lots of pitchers - including the Cardinals' veteran right-hander Adam Wainwright - wear dirty hats on the mound.

Later, Shildt released an additional statement regarding the incident.

"I have a great working relationship with the umpires and Major League Baseball," he said in the statement Katie Woo of The Athletic obtained. "They have a lot of challenges to doing their job, and they do it well. Having to police foreign substances, candidly, shouldn't have to be a part of their job."

West told pool reporter Jeff Jones of the Belleville News-Democrat that he asked Gallegos to change his hat so he wouldn't be ejected after throwing a pitch.

"We didn't let him put himself in jeopardy. We did that as a defense mechanism for everybody," West said. "We want the players to play the game, we don't want anybody to be accused of cheating or any of that stuff. So it was smarter to just remove the cap than to let him pitch and have somebody come out and complain."

After being removed from the field, MLB's compliance officer collected the now-infamous hat from the umpires' dressing room, and it's now being taken to New York for further examination. Gallegos could potentially face discipline from the league if the spot is determined to be an illegal substance.

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