BOSTON — There’s nothing to see here — aside from a well-pitched game.
Jon Lester tossed 7 2/3 shutout innings in Game 1 of the World Series on Wednesday, yet a lot of talk during and after the contest centered on a green substance located inside of the left-hander’s glove. Lester said before Game 2 at Fenway Park that the substance was nothing more than rosin.
“I just throw it in my glove,” Lester told reporters Thursday. “For me, it helps with tempo. Any time you’re not walking to the back of the mound grabbing the rosin, walking around, you can just reach in your glove and you’re back up in the rubber ready to go. That’s kind of how it started for me. It was more of a tempo issue. And any time, like I said, you get a foul ball, a new ball, whatever, you’re walking to the back of the mound grabbing the rosin, taking your time, getting back up on the rubber. It takes too long. You throw it in there [and] it’s perfectly legal. They put it back there for a reason and I’m going to continue to do it.”
The substance inside of Lester’s glove in Game 1 — which was a lime green color — was pointed out by Cardinals minor leaguer Tyler Melling, who tweeted a photo of Lester’s glove with a caption that read, “Jon Lester using a little Vaseline inside the glove tonight?” The tweet set off a social media firestorm, and even caused Major League Baseball to release a statement stating that no conclusions could be drawn from video review. Melling later deleted the tweet.
“You can take it as something that bothers you, or you can take it as a compliment,” Lester said Thursday. “Obviously, last night was not a night you wanted to use Vaseline. You want a grip on the ball. You don’t want to throw it to the backstop.”
John Farrell and Dustin Pedroia were among those who pointed to Lester’s sweaty mound habits as reasoning for the pitcher’s use of rosin, while Cardinals manager Mike Matheny acknowledged that the whole thing is “pretty much a dead issue.” Yet in the wake of a Game 1 gem, Lester was forced to answer questions about a controversy stirred up through social media.
“That’s the negative side of social media,” Lester said. “Twitter and Facebook have a lot of positives, communicating with people, charity, and then there’s something like this where I’m standing in front of you guys talking.”
As for why the substance was a lime green color? Well, that’s one mystery that remains unsolved.
“I saw the picture and I don’t know why that is,” Lester said. “It looks like a giant booger almost. I don’t know how that came about. The lighting, I don’t know how that is.”
Lester, who is 3-1 with a 1.67 ERA in four starts this postseason, is scheduled to pitch again in Game 5 in St. Louis. It’s safe to say that there will be plenty of attention paid to Lester’s mound habits in that game, although the Red Sox hurler says that he plans to put the Game 1 allegations behind him.
“I know not once I’ve cheated, won’t cheat, and I’ll continue to hold that as part of who I am,” Lester said. “Like I said, it is what it is. [Melling] has his opinion, he has his right to hold his opinion on it. The picture, like I said, does look bad, but it’s rosin. Like I said, that’s all I can really comment on with it. It’s rosin. My next start, Game 5 I’ll go out there and do the exact same thing and hopefully have the same outcome in the game.”
A similar outcome in Game 5 would go a long way toward giving the Red Sox a World Series title and enhancing Lester’s already impressive legacy within the organization. Now that’s a topic worth focusing on.