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Buchholz controversy reignites debate about cheating

05/05/2013 11:14 AM ET
By Matt Hughes

Clay Buchhotz is 6-0 with a 1.01 ERA this season with the Boston Red Sox.(AP)
Boston Red Sox pitcher Clay Buchholz was accused of throwing a spitter by two former Major League pitchers. The controversy has reignited the timeless debate about cheating in baseball.

After Buchholz threw seven scoreless innings against the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday, Blue Jays broadcaster and former pitcher Dirk Hayhurst said he noticed a shiny substance on Buchholz's left forearm. Jack Morris, another Blue Jays broadcaster and former pitcher weighed in the following day and concurred with Hayhurst's initial accusation.

Buchholz, who has struggled over the past two seasons, is off to the best start of his career at 6-0 with an MLB best 1.01 ERA. He disputed the accusations and said he only uses rosin and water -- both legal substances -- to improve his grip.

Sports Illustrated's Tom Verducci analyzed video of different Buchholz starts over the past two years, including the game in question in Toronto. He concluded, "Buchholz's left forearm glistens this year with some kind of substance that is not rosin or perspiration," adding, "He regularly rakes his right index and middle fingers across his left forearm, being careful to keep his other fingers raised."

A photo posted on sportsnet.ca appears to show the substance and motion that Verducci points out in his analysis.

Conversely, ESPN analyst and former Cy Young winner Orel Hershiser does not agree that Buchholz is cheating. Hershiser says he believes Buchholz is simply using a combination of rosin and water and is within the rules of the game.

It should also be noted than none of the Blue Jays players accused Buchholz of cheating. When asked about the controversy, Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said he didn't notice any impropriety.

"No, and if he was that's not why we lost the game," he said. "That's been going on in baseball probably since the game started. You get caught, you get caught, if you don't, I don't think it's anything unusual."

Follow Matt Hughes on Twitter: @matthughes

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