Yankees' Aaron Boone says Gerrit Cole 'uber-focused' in midst of Spider Tack accusations

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Gerrit Cole and Aaron Boone look on during spring training
Gerrit Cole and Aaron Boone look on during spring training

Gerrit Cole’s answer to a direct question about whether or not he used Spider Tack to doctor pitches didn’t fan out any flames surrounding him. MLB’s crackdown on using foreign substances on pitches has put Cole in the spotlight, especially since someone he’ll be pitching to on Wednesday night, Minnesota TwinsJosh Donaldson, called him out publicly on the situation.

So, when Yankees manager Aaron Boone was asked whether or not Cole is thinking about that storyline heading into his next start – a pivotal one since his last start against the Tampa Bay Rays was his worst of the season with significantly different spin rates on his pitches —Boone couldn’t lie.

“I think it’s no question been a major storyline in our sport and front and center,” he told reporters via Zoom. “Obviously, Gerrit is one of the best pitchers in the game and his name being mentioned in it had a response. So I’m sure it’s been on his mind.”

Boone added that conversations with the team and Cole about the ace’s name being in the news have occurred, though Cole did seem to be taken off-guard by the question during Tuesday’s pre-game Zoom press conference.

But Cole is a man that prides himself on work ethic, and one bad start doesn’t define how he’s going to come back out the next time through. And he certainly knows all eyes will be out there watching the box score and refreshing Baseball Savant to look at spin rates. So Boone sees a very focused Cole heading into this start against Minnesota.

“I also know he is uber-focused on what he’s gotta do to go out there and be successful against the Twins. Hopefully he can go out there and execute like he’s capable,” he said.

Boone believes that baseball will ultimately make a call soon about how they’re going to enforce the crackdown on foreign substances, saying umpires will basically have to look at every pitcher on every team when they come into the game.

With accusations against Cole, though, does he think that the Yankees will be more of a target?

“I think that’s going to be a question for the entire sport. On what level does this stuff start to happen? It sounds like this is going to be an umpire-enforced thing as we move forward. I think there’s going to be umpires looking for things from every game, from every team, from every pitcher that comes into the game.

“Do I think we’re going to be more of a target? I don’t.”