KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Just over a week after tweeting about his entire “catalog of video” on pitchers using sticky foreign substances to enhance spin rates and subsequently their performances, Twins third baseman Josh Donaldson confirmed he has been in touch with representatives from Major League Baseball on the matter to share his insight.
Donaldson, who spoke on the topic for 10 minutes Friday, likened the rampant usage to the steroid era.
“My biggest suggestion right now, if you want to clean the game up, because to me, this is going to be the next steroids of baseball ordeal because it is cheating and it is performance-enhancing, the only way to get through it and to get it out of the game is if they get checked every half-inning,” Donaldson said. “If a new pitcher comes out, they get checked immediately by the umpire.”
Cardinals manager Mike Shildt called it “baseball’s dirty little secret” last month after his reliever Giovanny Gallegos was ordered to switch his hat, shining more attention on the subject.
Four minor league pitchers were suspended this week after being caught using illegal foreign substances to doctor baseballs, per reports, and recent reports have suggested that MLB is on the verge of cracking down on the matter.
“Is it coincidence that Gerrit Cole’s spin rate numbers went down yesterday after four minor leaguers got suspended for 10 games? Is that possible? I don’t know. Maybe,” Donaldson said. “At the same time, with this situation, they’ve let guys do it.”
Donaldson said he started noticing it a little bit in 2019. After a truncated season in 2020, he said he’s noticed it “just way more throughout the league,” this season.
For comparison’s sake, Donaldson likened pitchers’ usage of substances to trying to hand a counterfeit $20 bill to a bank teller with 20 years of experience.
“That person’s going to know that’s not real,” Donaldson said. “As a hitter, in the experience I’ve developed over the years, I know when a fastball should not be moving like that or a slider should not be doing that.”
Offense has been down around the league, and Donaldson said once enforcement happens, contact will start coming back into the game.
“A lot of these guys that are not as good as their numbers are saying will be out of the game,” he said. “They’ll be done. And that’s where it should be because guys are blatantly cheating and it’s not even funny. You’re talking about guys whose careers hitting-wise are going down as well.”
Tom Gordon had initially planned on surprising his son, Nick, at the ballpark on Friday night.
What the three-time All-Star known as “Flash” Gordon during his 21-year career didn’t realize was that his flight from Orlando, Fla., got in much earlier than anticipated — and he needed some help getting a discount on a hotel room, so he didn’t get to carry out the surprise exactly how he would have liked.
It was a meaningful reunion for father and son, nonetheless. For the first time, Tom Gordon had a chance to watch Nick, a 25-year-old rookie infielder, as a major leaguer, which was a long-time coming after Nick was drafted in the first round in 2014 and then dealt with health issues for years.
“It’s definitely special,” Nick Gordon said. “I know this is where my dad started so for him to be able to see me play my first big league game here, it’s definitely meaningful. It’s a blessing for me and my family.”
The hardest thing in the world, Tom Gordon said, was to see Nick down. Nick Gordon has dealt with gastrointestinal issues for years and then had a bout of COVID-19 last year that sent him to the hospital.
That makes it even more special for his dad, who called it “nerve-wracking” to see Nick play in a major league game in person. Gordon, who started at second base Friday, singled in his first at-bat.
“To have him enjoying and loving and getting back — you can see the strength and the feel of what he loves and he didn’t lose — it’s just taken a little bit of time,” Tom Gordon said. “…You’ve got to give it to the Twins for nurturing him.”
Manager Rocco Baldelli said they were starting to have “realistic discussions” about when Byron Buxton (hip) might be able to play. Buxton has been on the injured list for nearly a month. … Luis Arraez (shoulder) has been throwing but is “not quite where we need him yet,” Baldelli said. … Kenta Maeda, who has been dealing with soreness in his arm, threw a 20-pitch bullpen on Friday at Kauffman Stadium, which he completed successfully. He is expected to throw another bullpen Sunday, after which Baldelli said they have not ruled out the possibility of a rehab assignment. … Baldelli said he didn’t believe Max Kepler (hamstring) would be out much longer than 10 days to two weeks. Kepler went on the injured list on May 30. … Andrelton Simmons was out of the starting lineup with a sore ankle for the third straight game, though he did take grounders before the game.