Boston Red Sox right-hander Clay Buchholz dismissed the notion that he loaded the baseball against the Toronto Blue Jays, insisting a substance on his left forearm that he kept going to was rosin and nothing more.
Video initially unearthed by the stadium’s scoreboard crew from his outing Wednesday and subsequently added to by the Sportsnet broadcast team showed a streak of what looked like a creamy white substance on his left forearm, which he would run through with his index and middle fingers.
The tip of his left sleeve, hanging just below the elbow, also looked wet with something other than water.
The Blue Jays did not complain to the umpires and did not ask that any balls be checked while they were being held to two hits and three walks in a 10-1 loss.
Buchholz laughed off speculation about what was on his arm, saying had they checked nothing untoward would have been found.
“There’s a rosin bag behind the mound and it’s there for everybody to use every inning after our warm-up,” he said Thursday. “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.”
Buchholz is 6-0 with a 1.01 earned-run average through his first six starts, allowing only 27 hits, 16 walks and five runs in 44.2 innings. He’s also struck out 47 batters, a remarkable resurgence from an 11-8, 4.56 ERA season in 2012.
The affable Texan, coolly strumming a guitar in the Red Sox clubhouse before the game, said he was unbothered that people might think he was cheating.
“That’s the way the world works,” said Buchholz. “If I had thrown two innings last night it probably wouldn’t have been an issue. As far as the undershirts and the discolouration, I’ve been wearing the same shirts for the last three years. So go figure what’s all over these shirts, I don’t even know. Throw them in the wash every night after I take them off and that’s it.
“I don’t care, I’m not doing anything wrong. If I have to answer questions about it, that’s the world we live in. It is what it is. It’s fine.”
Red Sox manager John Farrell was less laissez-faire about it when approached 1-on-1 with screenshots of Buchholz from Wednesday, asking curtly, “Are you suggesting he’s cheating?”
“He’s got rosin on his arm,” Farrell continued. “Last I checked, it’s legal.”
Told the substance appears shiny, Farrell replied: “If you’re pitching, you’re probably going to sweat, which is the reason why rosin is used.”
Buchholz also repeatedly ran his fingers through his long hair, leading him to quip, “I’m throwing stuff in my hair too, right?”
“No, that’s water,” he said. “You can look at as much video as you want after every inning I go in there and pour a bottle of water on my head. …I did the same thing in 2008 when I got sent down to double-A out of the big-leagues. It wasn’t a big problem then.”
Adding to the intrigue was Red Sox reliever Junichi Tazawa, who took the mound in the seventh inning Thursday with his left arm glistening, and the way he went to his forearm prompted Jack Morris to wonder on the Sportsnet broadcast whether there might be a foreign substance there, too.
Asked about it after the game, Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said he noticed nothing untoward.
“No, and if he was that’s not why we lost the game,” he said. “That’s been going on in baseball probably since the game started. You get caught, you get caught, if you don’t, I don’t think it’s anything unusual.”