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Yankees' Zach Britton on substance checks: 'Optics are absolutely embarrassing for our game'

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New York Yankees pitcher Zach Britton said Wednesday the constant inspections for grip-enhancing substances and the ensuing fights were not a good look for baseball going forward.

Britton, an MLB players union rep, told reporters before the team played the Kansas City Royals the focus should have been on Wander Franco’s electric debut for the Tampa Bay Rays instead of the headbutting over “sticky stuff.”

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“I just think the optics of it are so bad for baseball,” Britton said, via the New York Post. “We’re talking about that, we’re not talking about Wander Franco’s debut, we’re not talking about how well Gerrit [Cole] threw and how well Max Scherzer threw, and all this other stuff around the game. We’re talking about guys getting checked on the field, guys dropping their pants on the field, guys throwing their belts off. I just think the optics are absolutely embarrassing for our game.”

Britton said the players and fans need to hear from MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred on the issues.

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“I’d love to hear Manfred answer questions and not just players,” he said. “If you’re the head of a sport, I think part of the job description is to answer the questions and speak to the media occasionally. You see it throughout the other sports. It’s frustrating for the players that we haven’t heard from him yet.”

Manfred spoke to The Athletic around the same time Britton addressed the media.

“My view is the first two days have gone very well,” Manfred told The Athletic. “We’ve had no ejections, players, in general, have been extremely cooperative, the inspections have taken place quickly and between innings.”

Britton reiterated the optics were bad and getting checked on live TV out in the open wasn’t helping either.

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“If I’m a young kid at the game and I’m asking my dad, `Well, hey, what’s going on? Why they getting checked?′ What he’s going to say? `Well, they think everyone’s cheating,” Britton added. “I mean, is that what we want the game to be about like we’re assuming you’re cheating? I just think it’s a bad look.”

Fox News’ Dan Canova and the AP contributed to this report.

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