Martin Maldonado and the forbidden stick

Houston Astros catcher Martin Maldonado’s use of an illegal stick during the World Series is just an unfortunate misunderstanding.

It was during the first game of this final series against the Philadelphia Phillies that Maldonado used a banned stick. It was one of those that Albert Pujols sent him and that the new pensioner could use under a “grandfather” clause.

Indeed, these maple bats were banned by Major League Baseball in 2009. Not because they offer a competitive advantage, but for safety reasons. To explain this decision, the Manfred circuit had delivered a report indicating that they had a tendency to break into several pieces. The diameter of the sticks has since been slightly reduced.

To spare veterans, the major leagues allowed players to continue using these sticks, applying the new rule only to rookies. Having started his career in 2011, Maldonado did not have this privilege.

“Pujols and I are very good friends,” Maldonado explained after Game 2, in which he used different bats at the request of Major League Baseball, according to comments reported by Texas television station KHOU-TV.

“I asked him for some sticks. I used one [vendredi]. The league called me [samedi] and all they said was that I didn’t have the experience to be able to use this stick. I don’t think it’s a big deal. This is the rule and I have to follow it.

Not the first time

With Pujols’ bats, Maldonado had one hit — a single — on three official at-bats in his Astros’ 6-5 loss. The next day, he was shut out in as many appearances in the batting box.

Maldonado also revealed he’s used the sticks in the past, all while the pair were teammates with the Los Angeles Angels in 2017 and 2018.

“I used him, maybe for three at bats, when I was playing with him, but he was my teammate,” Maldonado revealed.

Both teams were scheduled to play Game 3 of the World Series on Monday night in Philadelphia. Before this meeting, the two teams were on an equal footing with a victory everywhere.

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