Apr 7, 2013; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell in the dugout prior to a game against the Toronto Blue Jays at the Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Is Clay Buchholz Doctoring His Pitches?

In short, no. But here is the story so far:

After a brilliant outing against the cellar-dwelling Toronto Blue Jays, a pair of Jays announcers went out on a limb to accuse Clay Buchholz of doctoring his pitches. I’m sure that Jack Morris and Dirk Hayhurst are well-respected within the Toronto broadcasting community; however they may have gone too far with this one. Buchholz is putting together a Cy Young type season for Boston and was just named American League Player of the Month, yet it seems that his critics will do anything to stop him in his tracks.

May 1, 2013; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Boston Red Sox pitcher starting Clay Buchholz (11) throws against the Toronto Blue Jays at the Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

As far as these accusations go, it’s a low blow by a pair of former pitchers who can’t bear to watch their team get rocked night in and night out. Buchholz has pitched himself to a league leading six wins not to mention a 1.01 ERA in six games started. But apparently both Hayhurst and Morris didn’t do their research on the lanky right-hander, as he has always been filthy, but in the good way. All the broadcasters had to do was look back to 2010 when Buchholz had 2.33 ERA in 173.2 innings pitched, good for sixth place finish in Cy Young voting.

Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley was quick to jump to the 28-year-old’s defense. Eckersley began his on air attack by calling into question the reputations of these guys, at one point calling Hayhurst a career minor league pitcher. While these reputation attacks might be well founded, they were out-of-order, but it is Eckersley’s defense of the Sox hurler that should matter. Eckersley pointed out that spitballs have wild, unpredictable movement to them, but Buchholz succeeds with pinpoint command and his ability to ‘paint’ the strike zone.

Hayhurst and Morris’ main complaint was the ‘evidence’ of some white, pasty substance on Buchholz’s arm. Both of the former big-leaguers obviously know about the presence of the rosin bag behind the mound, which is designed to afford the pitcher some grip on the baseball.  Sox Manager John Farrell similarly jumped to this conclusion in defense of his ace pitcher, stating “rosin was designed to get a grip… [Buchholz's] got it on his arm.” Buchholz himself came out in defense of his general use of the chalky powder:

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.

Rosin is a perfectly legal part of the game, pitchers these days may even be encouraged to use it. Unfortunately no one other than Clay Buchholz knows whether he was doing something illegal, and he maintains that he was complying with all of MLB’s rules and regulations. In today’s game there are any number of people on the field who would call a pitcher out on such use, the hitters are going to know that something is up, as is the umpiring crew and both dugouts. There simply isn’t anyway that a pitcher could get away with something like that. These accusations are unfounded and slanderous. Chances are Morris and Hayhurst are upset that Buchholz stymied the hapless Blue Jays and were looking for some excuse other than that their team was simply overpowered by an excellent young pitcher.

Tags: Boston Red Sox Clay Buchholz Toronto Blue Jays

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