Brian Matusz, here being ejected from Saturday's game against the Marlins for having a foreign substance on his arm, is appealing is eight-game suspension. (Rob Foldy/Getty Images)

On heels of latest pitcher controversy, John Farrell wants MLB to approve substance for better grip

Rob Bradford
May 25, 2015 - 10:38 am

MINNEAPOLIS -- With another major league pitcher getting suspended for the use of a foreign substance -- Baltimore's Brian Matusz, who is appealing his eight-game ban -- Red Sox manager John Farrell suggested there should be another look at the rules of baseball. Talking to the media prior to his team's series opener against the Twins at Target Field on Monday, Farrell said MLB might want to look for a new substance that helps the pitcher with his grip on the baseball that is considered legal. "I would like to see an approved substance that pitchers can use," Farrell said. "Because when we take a manufactured baseball and rub it with dirt, it's going to create a slippery feeling to it. The mud residue leaves a film on it that you don't necessarily feel a good, consistent grip. Unless you go to a ball like the one used in Japan where it's got a tacky feel to it. But I'd like to see something that's approved that everyone can use. I think if you poll any hitter, the hitter wants to know that the ball's got a grip. The ball's not going to get away from [the pitcher]." Matusz, who was ejected from Saturday's game against the Marlins for having a substance on his right arm, is the second MLB pitcher in a week to be disciplined for using an illegal substance on the baseball. The Braves' Will Smith also was suspended eight games for using what he said was a combination of rosin and sunscreen -- also on his right arm. "I think any time the game loses players for eight to 10 games, I think it makes us as an industry look within," Farrell said. "If a number of pitchers are putting themselves at risk and the belief is a widespread number of pitchers are using it, why would we not look to improve the game? Nobody wants to see pitchers sidelined." The Red Sox were involved in a similar controversy two years ago, when Clay Buchholz was accused by the Blue Jays radio broadcast crew of using a rosin-sunscreen mix to get a better grip. He was never penalized, and a number of people came to his defense, saying he was simply trying to get a better grip rather than get the ball to move unnaturally. "I don't think a grip gives you an ability to make the ball do different things," Farrell said Monday. "You're looking for feel in the hand and overall command. And a grip. I think if you even ask a hitter, they're going to say that a substance makes a ball do different things. It's not like scuffing it. Now, as long as it's a tacky substance. Not Vaseline, where you've got spitter action." Farrell, who early last season alerted umpires that Yankees pitcher Michael Pineda was using a foreign substance, leading to Pineda's ejection and a 10-game suspension, said MLB should consider following the lead of Japanese baseball, which he said uses balls that are easier to grip. "I don't know what they use. But when you take a ball out of there ... plus they don't rub the ball up with dirt. They're rubbed up with a little bit of sand, if anything so it doesn't leave a film on it," he said. "The leather itself has got a tackiness to it that it is a distinctly different feel in the hand of a pitcher." Added Farrell: "The Japanese ball is completely different and I think pitchers would prefer to use a ball  that ... they're looking for some tackiness or some added grip. And the Japanese ball clearly provides that."