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Max Scherzer on Substance Checks: I'll Take Off My Clothes If You Want to See Me

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistJune 23, 2021

Washington Nationals pitcher Max Scherzer reacts as he talks with umpires during a foreign substances check in the middle of the fourth inning of a baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies, Tuesday, June 22, 2021, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Matt Slocum/Associated Press

It's safe to say Max Scherzer is not a fan of consistently being checked for foreign substances during a game he's pitching.

"I'll take off all my clothes if you want to see me. I've got nothing on me," he told reporters after helping lead the Washington Nationals to a 3-2 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies on Tuesday at Citizens Bank Park.

While the right-hander impressed by allowing one run and two hits and striking out eight in five innings of work, the baseball took a backseat to a wild sequence.

Umpires are now checking pitchers for substances they may be using to improve their grips or spin rates, and Scherzer was checked multiple times in the early innings. He was somewhat demonstrative when it happened while holding his arms out, but things took a turn when Phillies manager Joe Girardi asked umpires to check him a third time.

FOX Sports: MLB @MLBONFOX

Max Scherzer has once again been checked for sticky substance, this time during an inning. (via @BarnHasSpoken) https://t.co/89dcFj8IcY

FOX Sports: MLB @MLBONFOX

After being checked for sticky substance 3 times tonight, Max Scherzer stared down Phillies Manager Joe Girardi while walking to the dugout. Girardi then left his dugout and had some words for Scherzer, which led to Girardi being ejected. https://t.co/3laApv2YdR

As the Associated Press (h/t ESPN) noted, Scherzer "tossed his glove and hat to the ground, unbuckled his belt and appeared ready to take his pants off in what became a bizarre scene."

He then stared down Girardi while leaving the field after ending the inning, which prompted the Phillies manager to scream toward the Nationals dugout. Girardi was ejected from the game.

"I'm not playing games. I'm trying to win games here," Girardi told reporters. "I have respect for what Max has done in his career, but I have to do what's right for our team."

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That it was Scherzer made the developments all the more notable, as he was one of the pitchers former Los Angeles Angels visiting clubhouse manager Brian Harkins said previously accepted substances to help his pitching. 

Harkins told Stephanie Apstein and Alex Prewitt of Sports Illustrated he gave such substances to a number of pitchers, including Scherzer, Gerrit Cole, Justin Verlander, Corey Kluber and Adam Wainwright.

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