- Gordon Edes, ESPN Staff Writer
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TORONTO -- Jack Morris, the former World Series hero and a Toronto Blue Jays broadcaster, said Thursday that he watched video after Wednesday night’s Red Sox-Jays game and came away convinced that Sox pitcher Clay Buchholz is throwing a spitball.
Morris said he didn’t notice it during Wednesday’s telecast. “I found out because the guys on the video camera showed it to me right after the game,’’ he said. “I didn’t see it during the game. They showed it to me and said, ‘What do you think of this?’ and I said, ‘Well, he’s throwing a spitter.’ ‘Cause that’s what it is.’’
Morris’s accusation was vigorously disputed by the Red Sox, including manager John Farrell and Buchholz, who said that is the first time he has ever been accused.
“Loading up with what, rosin?’’ Buchholz said. “I get wet from my hair. Are they talking about the stains on my shirt? There probably are stains on my shirt, because I’ve been wearing the same shirt for the last three years.
“I’m doing the same thing right now as I did in 2008, when I was sent down to Double-A. But I guess something’s got to be wrong, right?’’
Video of Buchholz rubbing his pitching hand on his left forearm was shown on the Jays’ pregame show Thursday night.
“He’s got rosin on his arm,’’ said Farrell, visibly annoyed. “He’s not loading up, he’s got rosin on his arm. As soon as someone pitches well or does well, they’re cheating.’’
Buchholz has won each of his first six starts, including Wednesday’s, when he held the Jays to two hits in seven scoreless innings. Buchholz, who has a 1.01 ERA, on Thursday was named American League Pitcher of the Month.
Morris said he went to Farrell and told him of his suspicions. He said he saw Buchholz repeatedly going to his left forearm, which he said was clearly smeared with a substance that Buchholz was rubbing onto the ball.
“It was all over his forearm, all over the lower part of his T-shirt, it’s all in his hair,’’ Morris said. “I can’t prove anything. I can’t prove anything.
“Funny thing, the way the game is played today. In our generation, every player, every coach would have seen it, the umpire would have gone out and made him change, made him stop and that changes everything. Or else they throw him out of the game. So what kind of bugs all of us is nothing is done here.’’
That last comment could be construed as criticism of Toronto manager John Gibbons and the rest of the Blue Jays, none of whom raised any issues with plate umpire Bruce Dreckman.
Morris won 254 games over the course of an 18-year big-league career. He is best remembered for one of the greatest pitching performances in World Series history, when he was with the Twins and beat the Atlanta Braves, 1-0, in 10 innings in Game 7 of the ’91 Series.
Asked if he believed that the action of Buchholz’s pitches suggested he was throwing a spitter, Morris said, “What do you think? Look at the pitches. Fastball at 94 that goes like that,’’ Morris said, his hand darting swiftly down and away. “On a fastball?
“He’s not the first guy to ever do it? You can get away with it, get away with it. Gaylord [Perry] made a nice career out of it.’’
Perry is in the Hall of Fame.
Morris, asked if he has seen any other current pitchers throwing a spitball, said he hasn’t.
“But I’ll be looking,’’ he said. “I’ll be looking. You warn all your boys I’ll be looking.’’
“I went up to Salty and I told him,’’ Morris said. “He said, ‘It’s dry in Boston, and I’ve seen him put water all over his pants.’ I said, ‘Salty this isn’t my first [expletive] rodeo.’ He didn’t know what to say to that, so we ended the conversation right there.’’
Saltalamacchia and Ross acknowledged speaking to Morris.
“I know for a fact he’s not doing anything illegal, as far as making his ball move more or cutting the ball to make it do this, that’s ridiculous,’’ Saltalamacchia said.
Saltalamacchia said Buchholz uses a mix of water and rosin to improve his grip on the ball.
“There aren’t too many pitchers who don’t try to get a grip somehow,’’ Saltalamacchia said. “That’s why there’s rosin out there. I don’t see anything to be alarmed about. It’s not like he’s taking a file and cutting the ball, doing something to make the ball move.
“The only person I’ve ever seen do that is [Vicente] Padilla. I’d see Padilla get water from the back of his head, the ball would sink six inches or so. With Buch, anyone who’s been around him knows his ball does what it does, but he’s not doing anything different than last year or the year before.’’
Said Ross: “I touch the ball as much as Buch does and I know when a pitcher is messing with the ball. He’s not putting anything on it. And that shirt he wears is about 40 years old.’’
Morris said he never threw a spitter in a game.
“One game I tried it in the bullpen and that’s why I know,’’ he said. “It was back against Oakland when Billy [Martin] was in Oakland. He had Matt Keough, Mike Norris, Rick Langford and Steve McCatty. Every one of those guys was throwing a spitter; every one of them The reason I know is I was pitching against Mike Norris and back in those days they wouldn’t throw balls out, and they were all full of [stuff].
“Next time I’m in the pen, I asked Milt Wilcox, how do you throw a spitter, because he pitched with Gaylord, he knows all Gaylord’s tricks.
“He said, ‘C’mon, I’ll show you.’ So I threw about three of them and the bottom fell out—quick, sharp nasty. But it’s not the easiest thing to throw. That’s why you don’t throw it every pitch.’’
Morris said he took no issue with his spitball accusations being reported.
“I’ve got no problem with it,’’ he said, “because I know he was.’’
1dTony Lee, Special to ESPN.com
2dTony Lee, Special to ESPN.com
2dTony Lee, Special to ESPN.com