John Farrell: Pitchers need an approved gripping substance

John Farrell wants to see an approved gripping substance that pitchers can use.
Rob Foldy/Getty Images

By Sam Galanis

John Farrell thinks Major League Baseball needs to write down one of its unwritten rules.

After Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Will Smith and Baltimore Orioles pitcher Brian Matusz both were ejected last week and suspended eight games for having a foreign substance on their arms, the great debate about grip-enhancers was brought up once again. And the Boston Red Sox manager and former pitcher told the Providence Journal’s Tim Britton that the MLB should find a way to let pitchers improve their grip on the ball.

“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, 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 him.”

In baseball, the use of grip-enhancers isn’t allowed, but it’s widely accepted as long as pitchers are discreet. That unwritten rule is exactly why Farrell had New York Yankees pitcher Michael Pineda ejected last season when he was blatantly using pine tar for a second time against the Red Sox.

Farrell said that as long as pitchers are using substances like pine tar or a mixture of sunscreen and rosin, which he believes don’t affect the movement of the ball, then he’s OK with their use.

“I don’t think a grip gives you an ability to make the ball do different things.” Farrell said. “You’re looking for feel in the hand and overall command. It’s not like scuffing it or vasoline, where you’ve got spitter action.”

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