BOSTON — Everybody sweats. Some just do it more than others.
Jon Lester was tremendous in Game 1 of the World Series on Wednesday, but the performance wasn’t without controversy, as a Cardinals minor leaguer questioned on Twitter whether the pitcher was using a foreign substance located inside of his glove. Lester said Thursday that the lime green substance was rosin, which Red Sox manager John Farrell insists is a necessity when you’re a sweaty mess like the Boston ace.
“From my perspective, if you know Jon Lester, he sweats like a pig and he needs resin,” Farrell said. “And you know what, he keeps it in his glove. Other guys will keep it on their arm. Other guys will keep it on their pant leg. So that’s my response to the allegations. The one thing that seemed very odd is that it shows up in a lime green color. I don’t know how that can happen.”
Major League Baseball has since released a statement saying that there is no evidence that suggests Lester violated the rules, and the Red Sox, as well as the Cardinals, are looking to brush the incident aside. Farrell has no doubts that Lester was using nothing more than rosin.
“The one thing that our umpires are very well aware of and looking for, to enforce the rules‑‑ having been Jon Lester’s pitching coach, and you know what, he’s got resin that he uses, and he happens to put it inside his glove,” Farrell said. “Categorically, yeah, that’s what he used.”
While Lester denied any wrongdoing, MLB rule 8.02.4 states, “the pitcher shall not apply a foreign substance of any kind to the ball.” There is a belief among some, however, that the rule should be updated to avoid any further ambiguity and to allow pitchers the benefit of being able to — legally — enhance their grip.
“How it’s updated, I don’t know. Do you start to list individual products?” Farrell said Thursday. “At the same time, I know talking to our own hitters, they want to be sure that a pitcher has got a complete grip of the baseball. Last night and in this series, there are pitchers on both sides that are going to be mid to upper 90s‑type velocity. If a hitter in the batter’s box has a little more comfort knowing the pitcher has a good grip, then maybe they’re a little more at ease as well. So to adjust the rule, where does it end? I don’t know. You’ve got to draw the line somewhere, and the way it is right now seems to fit.”
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny also downplayed the situation while speaking with the media prior to Game 2. He said that the allegations weren’t drummed up by the Cardinals, and that the lingering controversy is far from their minds as St. Louis looks to even up the series.
“Just to reiterate the fact that this was not instigated by us. And the way that we approach this is we just play the game,” Matheny said. “We don’t deny that some things have been acknowledged, and if that’s what he claims, then that’s what it is. That’s all there is to it. And right now it’s pretty much a dead issue. We move on with the fact that the league now has to take notice. But once again, this wasn’t something that was instigated by us.
“You realize the ramifications of that, if we started going down that path, would just be trying to make excuses for a pitcher having a very good game against us and us not getting the job done. And that’s not the kind of team we are. So we see what happens, we make note of it and we just keep playing.”
Matheny, like Farrell, was asked whether baseball’s rules regarding such situations should be altered, and the Cardinals skipper offered a rather simple and direct response.
“The rules are the rules,” Matheny said. “And it’s the responsibility of the league if they notice something that looks out of character, they’ve got to jump on it. I’m not part of the Rules Committee to start making changes here. Once again, when something becomes noticed, it’s addressed and I think it’s been taken care of.”
It’s clear that these two teams have bigger fish to fry right now. Sweat on, Jon.