Yankees pitcher Gerrit Cole dodges question about using sticky paste to improve his pitches

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Amid Major League Baseball’s crackdown on pitchers who use foreign substances to improve their grip, New York Yankees star Gerrit Cole dodged questions Tuesday about his suspected use of Spider Tack, a gooey paste favored by weightlifters. to indicate.

“I don’t know…I don’t know,” Cole told reporters during a Zoom call between breaks. “I honestly don’t know how to answer that.”

MLB recently announced that pitchers must be repeatedly checked for foreign matter by umpires, who are allowed 10 random checks per game.

This season, at least four minor league pitchers have been suspended for using banned foreign substances to doctor baseballs — ostensibly a testament to a stronger performance in the game’s feeder system than in the major leagues during this historically dominant stretch of pitching.

There have been six no-hitters this season — one less than the all-time record — and through May 31, MLB hitters hit just 0.236, the lowest figure since 1968. Using home-brewed gooey substances — mostly made from sunscreen and resin – is suspected to have peaked in recent seasons to increase spin rates on fields, which are noticeably harder to hit.

When asked if he used Spider Tack while casting, Yankees ace Gerrit Cole paused for six seconds before saying: 'I'm not sure how to answer that, to be honest'

When asked if he used Spider Tack while casting, Yankees ace Gerrit Cole paused for six seconds before saying: ‘I’m not sure how to answer that, to be honest’

After his initial clumsiness, Cole went on without directly answering the question about Spider Tack.

“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 definitely out of bounds in that regard,” Cole said. .

“This is important to a lot of people who love the game, including the players in this room, including fans, including teams, so if MLB wants to sort out some more things then that’s a conversation we can have. Because in the end we should all be heading in the same direction here.’

Gerrit Cole, who starts Wednesday-evening against the Twins in Minnesota, showed a reduced spin rate on his fields on Thursday during a rough outing.

Gerrit Cole, who starts Wednesday-evening against the Twins in Minnesota, showed a reduced spin rate on his fields on Thursday during a rough outing.

Minnesota Twins third baseman Josh Donaldson casually wondered to reporters last week if Cole had used a strange substance as the spin rate on his fields suddenly dropped as the MLB performance began.

“Is it a coincidence that Gerrit Cole’s spin rates dropped (Thurs) after four minor leaguers were banned for 10 games?” Donaldson asked reporters on Friday. ‘Is that possible? I do not know. Could be.’

Cole, who starts Wednesday night against the Twins in Minnesota, showed a reduced spin rate on his fields on Thursday during a rough outing.

According to MLB Statcast data on the Baseball Savant website, Cole had a 125 RPM drop in his four-seam fastball last week when he gave up five runs in five innings in the loss to Tampa Bay.

But instead of Spider Tack’s sudden absence, Cole blames the reduced spin rate on his mechanics.

“I’m just not quite coming up with my best delivery,” Cole said. “Of course it’s something we monitor. Of course, there are other variables that we also check when we evaluate our performance of each game. As a player you try to collect as much information as possible, and that is certainly one of them.

“We’re trying to get better this week and get to work, and I’ll be as prepared as possible for my next start.”

St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Shildt was kicked out of a game on May 26 when his pitcher, Giovanny Gallegos, was accused of using a sticky substance to dose baseballs

St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Shildt was kicked out of a game on May 26 when his pitcher, Giovanny Gallegos, was accused of using a sticky substance to dose baseballs

Cole was specifically asked about using Spider Tack - a sticky paste favored by weightlifters

Cole was specifically asked about using Spider Tack – a sticky paste favored by weightlifters

Another sticky substance used by pitchers is Tire Clear Sticky Grip (pictured)

Another sticky substance used by pitchers is Tire Clear Sticky Grip (pictured)

In this file photo from April 10, 2014, New York Yankees starting pitcher Michael Pineda, with substance on his pitching hand, delivers a pitch during the first inning of a baseball game against the Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium in New York

In this file photo from April 10, 2014, New York Yankees starting pitcher Michael Pineda, with substance on his pitching hand, delivers a pitch during the first inning of a baseball game against the Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium in New York

Cole called the criticism “unwanted” but declined to comment specifically on the accusation.

“I understand that this topic is important to anyone who cares about the game,” he said. ‘Concerning Josh [Donaldson]”I felt like it was a bit of low hanging fruit, but he’s entitled to his opinion and his opinion, so I just have other things to focus on.”

Cole, not yet halfway through season two on a $324 million nine-year contract, is third in MLB with 104 strikeouts. The three-time All-Star has a 2.26 ERA over 75 2/3 innings and 12 starts this season.

Home plate umpire Brian O'Nora and Ron Kulpa examine the baseballs with Andrew Heaney of the Los Angeles Angels against the Astros at Minute Maid Park on April 23

Home plate umpire Brian O’Nora and Ron Kulpa examine the baseballs with Andrew Heaney of the Los Angeles Angels against the Astros at Minute Maid Park on April 23

Despite those suspicions, no big league pitchers have been suspended or fined this season for using illegal substances.

Donaldson said Friday that the sticky substance situation will be “the next steroid of baseball testing” because of its performance-enhancing effect on the game.

“Hitters never really cared about sunscreen, resin and pine tar,” Donaldson said. “We didn’t care about that because it’s not a performance improvement. What these guys are doing now is performance enhancing, to where it’s a real super gluey ordeal, to where it’s not about command anymore.

“Now it’s about who throws the dirtiest throws, the more unattainable throws.”

Cole, a member of the players association’s executive subcommittee, said he welcomed the dialogue about the use and legality of grappling aids.

“This is important to a lot of people who love the game, including the players in this room, including fans, including teams, so if MLB wants to sort out some more things then that’s a conversation we can have,” he said. “Because in the end we all have to move in the same direction here.”

Yankees manager Aaron Boone said, “Ultimately, all anyone really wants — pitchers, position players, managers — is the best possible product and the most level playing field we can create.”

Minnesota Twins third baseman Josh Donaldson casually wondered to reporters last week if Cole had used a strange substance as the spin rate on his fields suddenly dropped as the MLB performance began.

Minnesota Twins third baseman Josh Donaldson casually wondered to reporters last week if Cole had used a strange substance as the spin rate on his fields suddenly dropped as the MLB performance began. “Is it a coincidence that Gerrit Cole’s spin rates dropped (Thurs) after four minor leaguers were banned for 10 games?” Donaldson asked reporters on Friday. ‘Is that possible? I do not know. Could be’

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