Red Sox

Martin Perez, Red Sox coaches say sticky substance crackdown isn’t reason for recent struggles

"I'm not a cheater."

Alex Cora says Red Sox starters haven't been struggling due to the MLB's crack down on foreign substances on baseballs. Jim Davis/Globe Staff

Red Sox pitchers have struggled recently, but according to Alex Cora and pitching coach Dave Bush, the MLB’s recent sticky substance crackdown isn’t the reason for those struggles.

On Sunday, after the Red Sox were shelled 18-4 by the Toronto Blue Jays, a reporter asked Cora whether he believes the crackdown is related to the Red Sox’s struggles.

“No, I just see the relation to ‘We’re leaving a lot of pitches right down the middle, and those guys are taking advantage of them,'” Cora said somewhat shortly.

Cora acknowledged that plenty of chatter will swirl, particularly if Red Sox pitchers’ control issues continue. The Red Sox have given up seven or more runs in five of their last six games, including Sunday’s beatdown.

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“Everyone will be looking at the scoreboard and who is pitching, and if you give it up, you were using something your last start,” Cora said. “But before [the crackdown], a lot of pitchers were giving it up. I know the league is doing a good job with this stuff and they are going to come down with a memo, but I don’t think struggling has to do with stuff, those guys are really good too, and we have made a lot of pitches right down the middle lately, and they are taking advantage of them.”

Major League Baseball initially warned teams in the summer that umpires would enforce the rules more carefully. Recently, Mets’ first baseman Pete Alonso accused the league of manipulating balls based on free agent classes, which would drive down salaries across the league (thus helping the league’s owners).

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On Saturday, ESPN reported that the league would release a full memo soon.

Red Sox pitching coach Dave Bush didn’t believe the substances are an issue either.

“They know what the rules are,” Bush told reporters following Sunday’s game. “It actually came up in spring training 2020 when MLB, the rules committee was coming around to different camps, and they talked about trying to get better at that, about enforcing that. It’s no surprise, it’s something that has to get cleaned up across the game.

“We talked to the guys from spring training on. We had another meeting last week. They know what’s going on. They know what the rules are and what they have to follow, and no, I don’t think it’s having any impact on us right now.”

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Martín Pérez, who gave up five runs on six hits on Sunday in 1.1 innings, issued a vehement denial.

“I’m not a cheater,” Pérez said. “I’ve been around for a long time, and I don’t use that kind of stuff. I just go out there and compete with what I got out there. I don’t put anything on my arm, I don’t put anything on my glove. Whoever did, that’s their problem, but that’s not [why] we’ve not been doing good or pitching good for the last 3 or 4 days, is because of the sticky things. No. It’s because we’re not locating the pitches where we want. If we go back again and throw the pitch where we wanted, we’re going to be fine.

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“But it’s not because we’ve been using sticky things. No way.”

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