The Yankees have won two in a row and will go for three on Thursday night, but the majority of the talk around the Bombers has been of the sticky variety.
Between Gerrit Cole’s recently decreased spin rate (which ticked back up on Wednesday) and Josh Donaldson’s comments calling out Cole specifically, the Yanks and their ace have been thrust into the sticky substance spotlight, which is already a big talking point amongst Major League Baseball, which is cracking down on the issue with more frequent checks of pitchers coming in the near future.
But Boone told Carton & Roberts on Thursday that he hasn’t seen the talk get to his players.
“It’s been a big story,” Boone said. “I don’t think its been a huge distraction, frankly, for us as a team. Obviously we’ve had to answer some questions about it. We know it’s one of the front sand center storylines in MLB right now. Obviously Gerrit has been pressed into the center of this and it’s probably been a stressful week for him going through all this while also trying to get ready for a start, but he’s handled it very well.”
Cole’s inclusion in headlines pertaining to sticky substances was largely due to his lack of an answer when asked directly if he had ever used Spider Tack, a substance seen as one of the more unfair helpers in increasing a pitcher’s spin rate. Cole, after an extended pause, didn’t say whether or not he had used it before, which raised eyebrows to the thousands who saw the viral video.
“I just thought the directness and the shortness of the question kind of took him aback a bit, more than not being prepared for those questions,” Boone said. “It’s a difficult topic. In our game, going back probably forever in time, the vast majority of pitchers have used something. I’m not a pitcher so I don’t know exactly the evolution of things and what exact things to do help grip the baseball a bit, but the vast majority going back in time have used something to help, and we’ve seen this over the past few years probably go to another level.”
Craig and Evan asked Mets manager Luis Rojas on Wednesday if he believed any of his pitchers were using any kind of illegal substances, and Boone was asked the same on Thursday, and gave a similar answer to his crosstown counterpart.
“I don’t think that’s being used in our locker room,” Boone said. “What the inside baseball guys would say is the turbo, over-the-top stuff, I do not believe that stuff is being used. But with that said, I don’t know what each individual is going out there with.”
With new rules, regulations and punishments likely coming from the league, Boone has talked to his players about the issue, but doesn’t think the substances that are seen as the more egregious in the league are an issue in the Yankee clubhouse, including Cole.
“We’ve addressed it as a club,” Boone said. “Even going back to spring training and even before of being an organization that is certainly not providing stuff like that or encouraging it, and I don’t believe our guys are using some of those things that I frankly have never seen.”