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¡¡¡¡It has been an eventful week for Yankees pitcher Gerrit Cole, who has been stuck answering several questions amid MLB¡¯s crack down on illegal sticky substances.
¡¡¡¡This topic initially sparked against Cole after Minnesota Twins third baseman Josh Donaldson accused him of using these substances to gain more spin on his pitches.
¡¡¡¡¡°Is it coincidence that Gerrit Cole¡¯s spin rate numbers went down (Thursday) 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 responded on Tuesday by referring to Donaldson¡¯s comments as: ¡°low-hanging fruit.¡±
¡¡¡¡¡°I was made aware of it,¡± Cole said. ¡°Obviously, it¡¯s sort of undesirable, but I understand this topic is important to everybody that cares about the game, and in regard to Josh specifically, I kind of felt it was a bit of a low hanging fruit. But he¡¯s entitled to his opinion.¡±
¡¡¡¡But it didn¡¯t stop there. Cole was asked whether he has ever used Spider Tack, an illegal substance that pitchers use to give themselves better grip to produce a higher spin rate.
¡¡¡¡Seemingly caught off guard, Cole delivering an awkward answer.
¡¡¡¡¡°Well, I don¡¯t ¡ I don¡¯t know ¡ I don¡¯t know if ¡ I don¡¯t know how to answer that, to be honest,¡± Cole said. ¡°I mean, 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 player. I think there are some things that are certainly out of bounds in that regard and I¡¯ve stood pretty firm in terms of the communication between our peers and whatnot. This is important to a lot of people that love the game, including the players industry, including fans, including teams. So, if MLB wants to legislate some more stuff, that¡¯s a conversation that we can have because ultimately we should all be pulling in the same direction on this.¡±
¡¡¡¡Fast forward to Wednesday when Cole pitched against the Twins and Donaldson, where he got his redemption.
¡¡¡¡Despite a number of recommendations from outside voices to ¡°put one in his ribs for talking,¡± Cole ultimately took the high road against Donaldson, who he bested in this matchup, striking the former AL MVP out two times.
¡¡¡¡Cole also appeared to be pitching with more adrenaline, as his fastball averaged 98.2 mph, as opposed to his season average of 97.3 mph. After the game, Cole admitted that the added heat to his pitches were ¡°probably a bit of the moment.”
¡¡¡¡The Yankees¡¯ ace shined across six innings, allowing two runs on five hits, striking out nine in the win. His spin rate on his four-seam fastball averaged 2,493 rpm, which is still below his season average of 2,547, but higher than the 2,436 rpms he had against the Tampa Bay Rays, where he got knocked around for five runs.
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¡¡¡¡Following the stellar performance, Cole went on to address his non-answer from Tuesday regarding the question he received about using Spider Tack.
¡¡¡¡”I hesitated yesterday on the specificity of the question because I just don t think this is the forum to discuss those kinds of things,” he said. “There s an appropriate time for players to discuss those things, and I ll keep it to that forum.”
¡¡¡¡The 30-year-old acknowledged the fact that the sticky substance talk likely will not subside and understands he must block out the noise in order to do his job.
¡¡¡¡”I think it s fair to say it s difficult to do that in this jersey in general,” Cole said, “but that s what we sign up for when we come here. I m not going to say it s the thing we love the most about playing here, but I guess you can t have it all.”
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¡¡¡¡Follow Pat Ragazzo on Twitter (@ragazzoreport). Be sure to bookmark Inside The Pinstripes and check back daily for news, analysis and more.
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