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Jon Lester: ‘I know that not once have I cheated’; Cardinals manager Mike Matheny calls matter a ‘dead issue’

10.24.13 at 5:16 pm ET
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Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester acknowledged that he keeps rosin — a legal substance — in his glove when he pitches, but he denied that he was using an illegal foreign substance to doctor the ball after pictures emerged of a glowing green substance on the thumb of his glove.

“I know what I do day in and day out to prepare to pitch in big league games. I know that not once have I cheated,” said Lester, who threw 7 2/3 shutout innings in the Red Sox’ Game 1 win. “The picture does look bad. But it’s rosin. That’s all I can really comment on with it. It’s rosin. And my next start, in Game 5, I’ll go out there and do the exact same thing and hopefully have the same outcome of the game.”

Lester said that he uses rosin liberally in order to compensate for the fact that he perspires profusely. By keeping it in his glove, he said, he can pitch with improved pace. He has no plans to alter how he applies it while pitching.

“I sweat like you wouldn’t believe. I need to keep water off of my hands and try to keep holding the ball. I think hitters would like that,” said Lester. “For me it helps with tempo, too. Every time you get a new ball, you’re not walking to the back of the mound grabbing the rosin, walking around. You can just reach in your glove and you’re back up on the rubber ready to go. That’s kind of how it started for me, more of a tempo issue.

“It’s perfectly legal,” he added. “They put it back there for a reason. I’ll continue to do it.”

Red Sox manager John Farrell likewise stated that, “categorically,” the only substance that was in Lester’s glove was rosin — the same legal substance that is on the mound.

“Three things quickly come to mind,” said Farrell. “MLB has obviously reviewed it and issued their statement. [They] consider it a closed case. The Cardinals have even responded. And probably most importantly, if you know Jon Lester, he sweats like a pig. He needs rosin, like every other pitcher. He chooses to keep it in his glove. You’ll see [John] Lackey tonight. He keeps it on his arm. Other guys have it on their pant. I don’t see this as being anything really.”

Farrell said he’d seen the pictures of Lester’s use of the substance, and was surprised by at least one element.

“How it’s lime green, I don’t know,” said Farrell. “Maybe somebody’s got the ability to PhotoShop. I don’t know. Seems pretty unique.”

Lester, likewise, struggled to explain the color of the substance.

“I saw the picture. I don’t know how that is,” Lester said of the greenish hue. “It’s rosin. I guess with the sweat, licking your fingers, rubbing your fingers in there may turn it a different color. I don’t know. I don’t pay attention to any of that stuff when I’m pitching. Like I say, I use the rosin bag. That’s all I can say about it.”

Asked if there was any special allowance by umpires for other substances that could be employed to improve grip on cold nights, Farrell noted that such permissions were limited.

“The only thing you’re allowed to do more, maybe on a colder night, is blow on your hand,” said Farrell. “The rules have been changed to speed the game up where you can go to your mouth, as long as you’re sure to go to your pant leg or some other material. Perfectly legal. In this case, so is rosin.”

Lester tried to identify a silver lining to the fact that he was confronted with a media throng seeking answers about whether he used an illegal substance following his outing.

“I guess,” he shrugged, “it’s a compliment.”

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny declared it a non-issue.

“This has caught a lot of attention here lately. Just to reiterate the fact, this was not instigated by us. The way that we approached this, we just play the game and we don’t deny that some things have been acknowledged. If that’s what he claims, that’s what it is, and that’s all there is too it. I think now it’s pretty much a dead issue. We move on. … It would just be trying to make excuses for a pitcher having a very good game against us and us not getting the job done. That’s not the kind of team we are.”

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