Dave Phillips is an umpire, not a dentist, which was why he stopped short of putting his hand in the mouth of New York Yankees pitcher Tim Leary.
Phillips, chief of the umpiring crew working last night's Orioles-Yankees game, responded to manager Johnny Oates' charge that Leary was scuffing baseballs with sandpaper and thereby throwing illegal pitches.
"John came out with a ball, and said he had several that were scratched or scuffed," said Phillips, who was working first base last night. "He said he'd like us to check the hand or glove, and we complied with his request.
"I specifically checked the glove and hand for a foreign substance, and there wasn't any evidence. They said he might have put it in his mouth. It's not in my right to look in his mouth, and frankly I don't want to put my hand in somebody's mouth.
He wasn't ejected because there was no evidence."
Oates protested to Phillips with a 1-2 count on Brady Anderson in the fifth inning. At that point, Oates had seven balls that he said were scuffed by sandpaper by Leary.
"Every inning I check the ball before it's put in play," said Phillips. "The ball always goes to the umpire at the end of the inning for that reason, to make sure we start with a legal ball. At no time did I see such a [scuffed] ball.
"I'm sure the Orioles will send the balls to the league office, but for us to charge him with an illegal act, we've got to have evidence. I can't frisk a guy, and I don't want to."