Now, the rule:
8.02e6 The pitcher shall not deliver a ball defaced in a manner prescribed by Rule 8.02(a)(2) through (5) or what is called the "shine" ball, "spit" ball, "mud" ball or "emery" ball. The pitcher is allowed to rub the ball between his bare hands. PENALTY: For violation of any part of Rules 8.02(a)(2) through (6): (a) The pitcher shall be ejected immediately from the game and shall be suspended automatically for 10 games.
And now, Mr. Sanabia's defense: He didn't know the rule.
"I didn't know. I was in my zone and just grooving. It's something you live and learn from. I didn't mean anything bad by it, or I didn't mean to do anything more," Sanabia said, via Associated Press. "It's something that showed up that way, and people all of a sudden just create their own perception of."
I don't understand the latter part. What perception does anyone need to create? Sanabia violated the rules. Whether he knew the rule, intentionally violated it or not, it's still a rules violation. But there's more.
"I don't know what they expect from spitting on it," Sanabia said (AP). "My intention wasn't to be like 'Let's get more movement.' My intention was I need more grip."
Well, again, irrelevant. We could argue the point if we wanted, but he's still out of bounds. It's a rule, and it was broken. Just stick with the ignorance plea and move on instead of trying to justify the illegal action. Otherwise, it starts to look like Sanabia is lying and actually did know the rule.
Regardless, MLB doesn't seem too concerned about the issue and Sanabia will take the hill Sunday against the White Sox.