Jon Lester saw the image of what looks like green goo on his glove in Game 1 of the World Series.
“It looks bad,” he said Thursday. “But I can honestly tell you that all I use is rosin.”
In a since-deleted message on Twitter, a Cardinals minor league pitcher named Tyler Melling questioned whether Lester was hiding Vaseline in his glove to use on the ball. But Lester said the substance is rosin, which is legal.
“I sweat a lot,” said Lester. “My hat’s got sweat dripping off the brim sometimes. I’ve put rosin on my hat before to try to stop it. You do a lot of different things to try to contain it.
“Even on a cold night like last night, I’m still sweating. You’ve got to do certain things to get a grip on the ball and not let it slip. Rosin is one of those things that seemed to help me.”
Lester, who threw 7⅔ scoreless innings in Game 1 Wednesday, allowing five hits with one walk and eight strikeouts, patiently answered questions about the situation Thursday. That a 25-year-old Single A pitcher questioned his integrity seemed to amuse Lester more than anything.
“I guess it’s a compliment,” Lester said. “I know what I do day in and day out to prepare to pitch for big league games. I know not once I’ve cheated, won’t cheat, and I’ll continue to hold that as part of who I am.
“He has his opinion, he has his right to hold his opinion on it. The picture, like I said, does look bad, but it’s rosin.”
Red Sox manager John Farrell suggested the image Melling posted was manipulated electronically.
“I did see the picture,” said Farrell. “Someone sent me the picture. How it’s lime green, I don’t know. Maybe somebody has the ability to Photoshop. It seems pretty unique.”
Lester said the material “looked like a big booger” on his glove.
“I don’t know how it looked like that,” he said.
Farrell said it’s a matter of Lester getting a grip on the ball.
“If you know Jon Lester, he sweats like a pig and needs rosin, like every other pitcher,” Farrell said. “He chooses to keep it in his glove. You’ll see [John] Lackey tonight, he keeps it on his arm.”
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny distanced the team from Melling’s accusations.
“This was not instigated by us,” said Matheny. “The way that we approach this is we just play the game. We don’t deny that some things have been acknowledged and if that’s what [Lester] claims, then that’s what it is. That’s all there is to it and right now it’s pretty much a dead issue.”
Lester said the controversy, such as it is, would not change how he approached his next start.
“No. I think MLB and St. Louis and the GM of the Cardinals [John Mozeliak], everybody handled it professionally,” he said. “I don’t see why I would [change].”Peter Abraham can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.