Red Sox

Sam Kennedy praises MLB’s substance rules, says Red Sox pitchers must ‘figure it out’

Kennedy's comments come after Garrett Richards expressed frustration with the new rules Wednesday.

Garrett Richards Red Sox
Garrett Richards is relieved by manager Alex Cora in the second inning against the Tampa Bay Rays Wednesday. Julio Aguilar/Getty Images
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After a forgettable outing Wednesday, Red Sox pitcher Garrett Richards acknowledged baseball’s recent crackdown on sticky substances has affected his performance on the mound.

“It has changed pretty much everything for me,” Richards said. “It’s changed a lot for me…I feel like I need to be a different pitcher than I have been the last nine-and-a-half years.”

The Boston starter went on to discuss the challenges of learning of to “throw a baseball on the fly” and adjust his mechanics during the mid-season shakeup brought on by complaints about pitchers overusing substance to improve spin on their pitches.

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On Thurdsay, Red Sox president Sam Kennedy told WEEI’s The Greg Hill Show that his team is “going through it” just like every other.

But while Richards and other pitchers have slammed baseball’s rule changes and in-game substance checks, Kennedy welcomed the changes as a positive.

“As an industry, it’s been widely documented that there have been issues throughout the game,” he said. “Kudos to baseball for cleaning it up. It’s a rule that’s been on the books since 1920. Everybody acknowledges we need to play by the rules, and it clearly is an adjustment for some pitchers.”

MLB rules do indeed prohibit the application of foreign substances to baseballs, but the limited use of things like rosin and sunscreen have long been accepted in the game as a way to improve grip on the baseball.

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The league is now intervening after complaints that pitchers have abused those substances, with new guidelines that went into effect June 15. Among other things, they state that starting pitchers must undergo substance checks multiple times a game. Anyone found to be using a foreign substance is automatically ejected and suspended from the game.

But while these rules have only come into effect recently, Kennedy said Commissioner Rob Manfred’s office made it “very clear” in Spring Training that changes were coming.

“They essentially put the industry on notice,” Kennedy said. “They talked to players: the hitters, the pitchers, current players, former players. And now they’re enforcing the rules that need to be enforced.”

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He says Red Sox pitchers will simply have to make the adjustments necessary under the new guidelines.

As for Richards’s concerns about his individual performance, Kennedy said he’s confident the starter will “figure it out.” He added that Richards has worked with pitching coach Dave Bush to make some adjustments throughout the season as well.

Richards talked about the importance of not letting his struggles hamper the Red Sox and finding a way to move forward.

“I mean, I’m an athlete,” the pitcher said. “I’d like to think I’m going to be able to get over this and figure out a way to get it done. Like I was saying, this kind of got brought on us real quick, so I’ve only really had a week to work on it. Some guys are figuring it out sooner than others, but for me, it’s taking a little bit more time.”

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