Nationals GM Calls Joe Girardi a 'Con Artist' for Max Scherzer Substance Checks

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistJune 23, 2021

Philadelphia Phillies manager Joe Girardi against the San Francisco Giants during a baseball game in San Francisco, Saturday, June 19, 2021. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

Washington Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo ripped Philadelphia Phillies manager Joe Girardi for asking umpires to check Nats pitcher Max Scherzer for foreign substances during Tuesday's game, calling him a "con artist."

Rizzo told The Sports Junkies on Wednesday that Girardi was attempting to get under Scherzer's skin rather than being worried about any foreign-substance issues:

"What are we, idiots? Of course he was. It's embarrassing for Girardi. It's embarrassing for the Phillies. It's embarrassing for baseball. Yes, he was playing games. Hey, that's his right. Gamesmanship. It had nothing to do with substances. He had no probable cause to ask for it. The umps shouldn't have allowed it. But it happened, and you've got to deal with it. This is what we're gonna have to deal with.

"You think you're gonna intimidate a Max Scherzer? It's just not gonna happen. You're just gonna piss him off and make him concentrate that much harder. This is about breaking Max's rhythm and frustrating him and that type of thing, and it didn't work. Our bullpen pitched great, we got some timely hits, and we beat the Phillies. So we move on. We play them today again, so that's good."

Scherzer was checked for substances on three occasions Tuesday night, including a check requested by Girardi with one on and one out in the bottom of the fifth inning. The future Hall of Famer took exception to the new protocol and was angered by Girardi's request, culminating in a staredown as he went to the dugout in the fifth inning.

Girardi then left the dugout to seemingly challenge Nationals hitting coach Kevin Long to a fight, leading to his ejection. Scherzer struck out eight and gave up a lone run during his five innings of work as the Nationals earned a 3-2 victory.

Phillies general manager Dave Dombrowski called Rizzo's comments "totally improper" and said the blame was not on Girardi.

The manager said he found Scherzer wiping his head "suspicious," which was why he asked for the check.

MLB will likely see more of these altercations as the new checks for foreign substances take hold around the sport. Several pitchers, including Scherzer, have displayed their dismay by showing up umpires during the checks.