Boston Red Sox pitcher Clay Buchholz is off to the best start of his career, but not everyone thinks that’s because of his natural talent. Toronto Blue Jays broadcaster Dirk Hayhurst accused the pitcher of cheating to improve his pitches.
The right-handed Buchholz beat the Toronto Blue Jays on May 1, throwing seven shutout innings while striking out eight and allowing just two hits en route to a 10-1 victory.
Following the game, Hayhurst, who broadcasts Toronto games for Sportsnet, tweeted his belief that Buchholz was doctoring the ball with a foreign substance:
Forget the hair, I just saw video of Buchholz loading the ball with some Eddie Harris worthy slick'em painted up his left forearm. Wow.— Dirk Hayhurst (@TheGarfoose) May 2, 2013
Hayhurst later posted another tweet indicating that whatever was on Buchholz’s arm looked suspicious to him. He also included a screen shot of the pitcher’s arm to back up his claim:
Could be rosin, could be something else. Looked awfully fishy, is all. twitter.com/TheGarfoose/st…— Dirk Hayhurst (@TheGarfoose) May 2, 2013
Buchholz emphatically denied the allegations, according to MassLive.com’s Evan Drellich:
There's a rosin bag behind the mound and it's there for everybody to use every inning after our warm-up. Put rosin on my arm throughout the game. Sweat, water, whatever. ... Sometimes I put a little thing of water on my hip just to get moisture on your hands. Cause sometimes the balls that they throw to you feel like cue balls off a pool table. Got to find a way to get grip. But yeah, I mean, definitely no foreign objects or substances on my arm.
Boston manager John Farrell was not pleased by the accusations and immediately came to the defense of his pitcher, explaining to the Providence Journal’s Brian MacPherson what was actually on Buchholz’s arm:
It bothers me immensely when someone is going to make an accusation—and in this case, of cheating—because they've seen something on TV. He's got rosin on his arm. Rosin was designed to get a grip. He's got it on his arm. I've seen some people that have brought photographs to me. They're false. The fact is that the guy is 6-0. He's pitched his tail off. People are going to point to cheating? Unfounded.
MacPherson explained the rule that Hayhurst believes Buchholz violated:
According to Rule 8.02(a), "The pitcher shall not, while in the 18-foot circle surrounding the pitcher's plate, touch the ball after touching his mouth or lips, or touch his mouth or lips while he is in contact with the pitcher's plate. The pitcher must clearly wipe the fingers of his pitching hand dry before touching the ball or the pitcher's plate."
The rule book also states that the pitcher shall now "apply a foreign substance of any kind to the ball."
For the season, the 28-year-old Buchholz is 6-0 with a 1.01 ERA and was just named the American League Pitcher of the Month for April (the Red Sox twitter feed). He leads the league in wins, ERA and innings, and his 47 strikeouts are good for third behind just Yu Darvish and Anibal Sanchez.
Boston catcher David Ross told Drellich that Buchholz is “clean as a whistle.” He also said that people always want to look for the negative, explaining that anytime “somebody has success, they want to blame something.”
Foreign substance or rosin and water, the Red Sox at 19-8 have benefited greatly from Buchholz’s strong start to the season. They will continue to lean on him heavily as the year progresses and the team strives for the playoffs.
Hayhurst won’t be able to prove his allegations, but if Buchholz can continue pitching like an ace, he can silence his critics with his production instead of his words.
Statistics via Baseball-Reference