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Aaron Boone pushed back at Josh Donaldson’s accusations that Gerrit Cole was among the pitchers who might be using illegal foreign substances to increase spin rates — and become even more dominant.
“I don’t make much of it,’’ Boone said Sunday when asked what he made of the Minnesota Twins’ veteran’s comments last week, when Donaldson noted that Cole’s spin rates had decreased days after an AP story reported that four minor leaguers had been suspended this season for using foreign substances.
“Gerrit, as well all of our staff members, I believe are mostly above board and will be able to handle this situation in the right kind of way,’’ Boone said. “And it’s not gonna affect the kind of pitchers they are.”
MLB owners met last week and agreed the sport needed to crack down on pitchers potentially using prohibited substances to spin pitches with greater revolutions.
It allows breaking balls to move more. The crackdown could begin as soon as within the next two weeks.
With the Yankees headed to Minnesota to open a series against the Twins on Tuesday — and Cole slated to take the mound Wednesday — Donaldson on Friday called the pitching situation “the next steroids of baseball.”
“What these guys are doing now [is] performance enhancing to where it is an actual superglue type of [deal],’’ Donaldson said. “It’s not about command. Now, it’s about who’s throwing the nastiest pitches.”
Donaldson continued: “Is it coincidence that Gerrit Cole’s spin rate numbers went down [Thursday] after four minor leaguers got suspended for 10 games? Is that possible? I don’t know. Maybe. At the same time, with this situation, they’ve let guys do it.”
Cole will address the accusations during his scheduled availability prior to Tuesday’s game in Minnesota.
He was linked to a since-dismissed lawsuit by a former Angels clubhouse employee, having allegedly sent a text to the employee looking for a substance the employee provided to pitchers from both the Angels and opposing teams.
After striking out 78 and walking just three in his first eight starts — to go along with a 1.37 ERA — Cole has been less effective in his last four outings. He’s struck out 26, walked eight and has a 4.30 ERA.
Boone said he’s “had enough conversations to know something is definitely coming,’’ regarding the use of foreign substances, which many — including Donaldson — believe is a chief culprit in the historically poor offensive numbers being put up around the game this season, in addition to advanced analytics.
Sources said the new enforcements would include putting added responsibility on clubs to enforce rules against doctoring balls within their own clubs. Umpires would be empowered to check caps, gloves and uniforms for signs of illegal substances on a pitcher.
Joe West applied this rule on May 27, when he confiscated the hat of Cardinals pitcher Giovanny Gallegos. St. Louis manager Mike Schildt was ejected when he argued the ruling.
Boone added he’s in favor of stricter enforcement, with pitchers having moved on from the rosin, sunscreen and pine tar they’ve used for years to improve command, to the Spider Tack and other stronger substances some believe are being turned to now.
“It does seem like it’s gone to a level that’s gone too far,’’ Boone said. “I do think there’s absolutely a difference between some of the things we’ve been seeing and been incorporated as opposed to sunscreen, rosin and pine tar. I do think probably there’s a line that has been crossed by many.”
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