New York Yankees right-hander Gerrit Cole didn’t deny using foreign substances on the baseball when asked directly about recent claims during a press conference on Tuesday.
Minnesota Twins third baseman Josh Donaldson called Cole out late last week as a pitcher who is using an illegal substance.
According to recent reports, the substance “Spider Tack” is being used by pitchers to get a better grip on the ball. The Athletic reported that Major League Baseball is studying the substance that sharply increases the spin rates of pitchers.
When asked directly if he used Spider Tack, Cole was silent for about five seconds before answering.
“I don’t know if — I don’t quite know how to answer that to be honest,” Cole said prior to Tuesday’s game against the Twins.
Cole then gave a meandering answer in which he didn’t deny — or confirm — he is using Spider Tack, which reportedly is easy to hide while a pitcher is on the mound.
“There are customs and practices that have been passed down from older players to younger players, from the last generation of players to this generation of players, and I think there are some things that are certainly out of bounds in that regard and I’ve stood pretty firm in terms of that and in terms of our communications between our peers and whatnot,” Cole said.
“Again, like I mentioned earlier, this is important to a lot of people who love the game, including the players in this room, including fans, including teams. If MLB wants to legislate some more stuff, that’s a conversation we can have because ultimately we should all be pulling in the same direction on this.”
Cole is slated to start against Donaldson and the Twins on Wednesday.
MLB recently suspended four minor league pitchers for using illegal substances. And Donaldson said there is a correlation to those suspensions and why Cole’s spin rate was sharply reduced in his last outing.
Cole (6-3) was roughed up for five runs over five innings by the Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday, prior to Donaldson’s accusations. Cole’s ERA went from 1.78 to 2.26.
“Is it coincidence that Gerrit Cole’s spin rate numbers went down after four minor leaguers got suspended for 10 games?” Donaldson said. “Is that possible? I don’t know. Maybe. At the same time, with this situation, they’ve let guys do it.”
Cole claimed he just wasn’t sharp in the outing. He also wasn’t thrilled with Donaldson’s comments.
“Yeah, I mean, I was made aware of it this week. Obviously, it’s undesirable, but I understand this topic is important to everybody that cares about the game,” Cole said. “In regards to Josh specifically, I mean, I kind of felt it was a bit of low-hanging fruit, but he’s entitled to his opinion and to voice his opinion.”
Cole was a solid pitcher in five seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates, going 59-42 with a 3.50 ERA from 2013-17. He struck out 734 batters in 782 1/3 innings.
He was traded to the Houston Astros and his results rapidly improved. He went 35-10 with 2.68 ERA in a two-year span, and fanned 602 batters in just 412 2/3 innings.
Cole cashed in as a free agent and received a nine-year, $324 million deal with the Yankees. He is 13-6 with a 2.54 ERA in 198 strikeouts in 148 2/3 innings through 24 starts over two seasons.
–Field Level Media