Freelance Digital Journalist



Is it illegal for a pitcher to have a scouting report in his pocket while pitching?

According to MLB umpire Joe West the answer is no. On Saturday, West confiscated a card from Phillies pitcher Austin Davis after he pulled the card from his pocket before pitching to Cubs’ third baseman Kris Bryant.

“I saw him take it out and I went, ‘What the heck is that?'” West said.

West said the card is considered a “foreign substance,” which constitutes a violation of Rule 6.02(c)(7) which states: “… the pitcher shall not have on his person, or in his possession, any foreign substance.”

West said:

“I told him we don’t allow him to carry anything on their glove, person or clothing except in some cases where there’s a rain situation we allow them to put a rosin bag in their pocket. Other than that they can’t have anything on their person. I didn’t want to throw him out. I know it’s foreign but he’s not trying to cheat. Maybe he’s trying to get an advantage because he’s reading the scouting report, but it wasn’t pine tar, it wasn’t an emery board, it wasn’t whatever. In the long run, maybe they’ll let him (have the card). Right now, my hands are tied until they say yes or now. Right now, until the office says it’s OK to carry this, he can’t do it.”

Should the scouting report be considered a “foreign substance,” therefore illegal? How many times in recent seasons have we witnessed infielders and outfielders refer to cards when positioning themselves for batters? Is that considered illegal too? If so, why aren’t umpires taking action?

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About the author

John Strubel

Hi. My name is John Strubel. I am a storyteller. I love to write. My writing is predominantly related to my greatest passion in life: baseball. Thanks for visiting my website.


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  • What is a “foreign substance?” My understanding of that phrase is that it is something that will influence the game (i.e. spitball, sandpaper, pine tar, etc). This is a ridiculous ruling.

  • I think umps are being pressured by the commissioners office to quicken the pace of the game and going to a scouting report in your pocket is slowing the game down. I understand the league wants a faster pace, but these moves are not helping the game. Let’s face it, baseball is NOT a fast-paced sport.

    • Eddie: Thanks for the comment. I fear the league will eventually make some seismic changes that will really change the game. The biggest one is removing umpires and utilizing technology for the strike zone. I don’t agree with it at all, but I fear it’s coming and it will eliminate the human element of the game. We’ve already seen how tech has negatively influenced the relationship between umps and managers. Once upon a time, the home plate argument brought life and energy to the game. Now, it no longer exists.

  • Catcher communicates with the dugout who has all the notes & data on the hitter. Pitcher needs to focus on executing pitch requested & everything else he controls on the mound like pace of play, holding on runners, etc. having a physical note on him while on the mound is absurd.

Freelance Digital Journalist

John Strubel

Hi. My name is John Strubel. I am a storyteller. I love to write. My writing is predominantly related to my greatest passion in life: baseball. Thanks for visiting my website.

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