MLB umpires have been cracking down on anything that could affect the spin rate of baseballs, apparently including wedding rings.

Tampa Bay Rays starter Zach Eflin said he was forced to remove his ring in the top of the second inning Thursday. Otherwise, he would have been expelled.

Eflin and umpire Adrian Johnson spoke on the mound, along with manager Kevin Cash and catcher Christian Bethancourt, in an apparently unusual circumstance.

Eflin said referees don’t normally give him much trouble.

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Zach Eflin of the Tampa Bay Rays throws a pitch during the first inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Tropicana Field on May 4, 2023 in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)

«It was the first team that was really giving me trouble getting the ring off,» Eflin said. After the match. “I’ve told all the referees that have asked me to take it off, I’ve said: ‘Hey, I respect what you do, but I’ll keep it on. It is very important to me’. Most umpires are fine with that, and will let MLB deal with it if necessary.

“But this team of referees was a little different. They seemed a little nervous, but that’s part of it. I said, ‘If you’re going to kick me out of the game, then I’m going to remove it.’ And that’s what they ended up coming out to and telling me on the mound that they were going to take me out of the game if I didn’t take the rubber ring off. So I took it off.»

Zach Eflin delivering

Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Zach Eflin throws out a pitch against the Pittsburgh Pirates in the first inning at Tropicana Field. (Nathan Ray Seebeck/USA Today Sports)

The umpires are just doing their job, making sure the ring doesn’t cause any scratches on the ball, which could result in some unusual movement. Ring or not, Eflin still held sway.

Eflin pitched seven scoreless innings while allowing just three hits and striking out 10 without walking a batter.

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Entering the season, Eflin had a 4.49 ERA in his first seven seasons with the Philadelphia Phillies. Since he joined the Rays, who have a secret pitching trick, he has allowed just seven earned runs in 28.0 innings for a 2.25 ERA.

Eflin married his longtime girlfriend, Lauren Dennen, in December 2020 and the couple have three children, including twins born in March. The two grew up in Oviedo, Fla., but attended rival high schools in the city.

Zach Eflin with referee

Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Zach Eflin, right, reacts after being hit by a pitch against the Oakland Athletics in the sixth inning at Tropicana Field. (Nathan Ray Seebeck/USA Today Sports)

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While Eflin was selected in the first round of the draft by the San Diego Padres, Dennen went to the University of Florida in nearby Gainesville.