Red Sox' Matt Andriese accused of doctoring baseballs by fired Angels employee

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John Tomase
·2 min read
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Tomase: Sox' Andriese among pitchers accused of doctoring baseballs originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

An Angels employee fired for providing illegal substances to help opposing pitchers improve their grips accused one current and one former Red Sox hurler of doctoring baseballs as part of a lawsuit against his former team, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Brian "Bubba" Harkins spent 30 years as visiting clubhouse manager in Anaheim before being fired last March after an investigation revealed that he had supplied both home and away pitchers with a sticky mixture of pine tar and rosin that improved their ability to grip the ball.

The 55-year-old sued the team and Major League Baseball for defamation in August and on Thursday his attorney identified in Orange Superior Court a list of pitchers who had benefited from his concoction. Among them, according to the Times, were two with Red Sox connections -- new right-hander Matt Andriese, who spent last season with the Angels, and former reliever Brendan Donnelly, who was also named in baseball's 2007 Mitchell Report over an attempt to purchase steroids.

Tomase: Andriese ready to 'compete for a starting spot' with Red Sox

The Red Sox signed Andriese to a one-year, $2.1 million deal two days before Christmas. He is expected to compete for a spot in the bullpen or perhaps at the back of the rotation.

While doctoring baseballs is technically illegal, the case bears more than a passing resemblance to the Clay Buchholz Bullfrog controversy of 2013, when the Red Sox right-hander was accused of using the spray-on sunscreen to improve his grip. Hitters generally don't mind the practice, because it doesn't alter movement so much as decrease the likelihood that a wayward fastball will bean them.

MLB, however, informed teams last March that it intended to crack down on the practice. Harkins was fired shortly thereafter. His lawyer accused the team and MLB of scapegoating him, noting that no players were punished as a result of the investigation, which came on the heels of the Houston Astros sign-stealing scandal.

Harkins named names in court Thursday in response to MLB's motion to dismiss his case. Among them was Yankees ace Gerrit Cole, who texted Harkins in January of 2019 that he needed help with "this sticky situation," followed by a winking emoji, according to the Times.

"We don't see you until May, but we have some road games in April that are in cold-weather places," Cole wrote. "The stuff I had last year seizes up when it gets cold."

Other pitchers named in the court filing include Cy Young Award winners Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Felix Hernandez, and Corey Kluber, as well as All-Star Adam Wainwright. Harkins is seeking $4 million in damages.