Is a wedding band contraband? Rays pitcher willing to find out

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The Tampa Bay Rays right-hander has a simple message for umpiring crews he’ll encounter the rest of the season: Make me.

Eflin on Tuesday will make his first start since crew chief Adrian Johnson told him he had to remove his rubber ring after the first inning of his outing last week against Pittsburgh – even though the ring is on his glove hand.

When Eflin completes the bottom of the first inning against the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday night, he’ll get his hands and glove checked by crew chief Todd Tichenor for foreign substances.

And Eflin, 29, says he hopes a band on his left hand won’t be considered contraband.

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‘If they ask me to take it off because they’re going to eject me out of the game, then I’ll take it off,’ Eflin said Monday. ‘But I have to keep telling everybody it’s important to me. It’s my representation of the covenant I have with my wife. If other people have problems with that, so be it.

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‘I’ve been wearing it for two years now. This is really the first issue I’ve had with it.’

That issue occurred when crew chief Adrian Johnson engaged Eflin in a lengthy conversation and insisted the ring – commemorating his 2020 marriage to Lauren Dennen – come off.

Eflin says other players around the league have worn similar rings without incident and, with the ring buried in his glove hand, it would be the last place any foreign substances might aid his pitching.

That’s why he insists even the equivalent of a traffic ticket is out of bounds when umpires aim to crack down on foreign substances. And why he’ll wear his band Tuesday night.

‘If they’re really coming after me for a rubber wedding ring, then I think they have their head in the wrong spot,’ says Eflin, who has three children with Lauren, including twins born in March. ‘I never really use both my hands to rub down the ball. The only time they ever see it is during a very cold game, or when I’m getting checked off to the side.’

This post appeared first on USA TODAY