Former Astros pitcher Gerrit Cole has asked the fired club employee for a sticky substance for baseballs in his 2019 season, while Justin Verlander is assisting the man after he stopped providing supplies, according to court documents received on Thursday.
On January 17, 2019, Cole sent a message to Brian “Buba” Harkins, a longtime servant at the clubhouse at Angel Stadium, asking “can you help me with this sticky situation” and added a wink of emoticons.
“We don’t see you until May,” Cole wrote, “but we have some road games in April that are in cold weather.” The things I had last year catch when it cools down. “
Harkins was fired on March 3, 2020, after an investigation into the Major League Baseball League found that he was providing various pitchers with various sticky substances to aid their grip. In September, Harkins filed a lawsuit against the Angels and Major League Baseball, claiming it was a “scapegoat”
In an interview with Harkins on March 7, Verlander said he wanted to support Harkins publicly, but “verifying that their team is under him will be very difficult.”
“(Verlander) has talked to Mike Fyers (sic) about this and other pitchers,” Harkins wrote in notes, summarizing the phone call he made with Verlander. “Justin knows from MLB that they have found that teams hire chemists and do research to come up with things that are more advanced to increase the speed of rotation.
“There are also organizations that hire free agents and tell them that they can increase their spin speed for boys who don’t use things, and they tell them that they can increase their spin speed and help them like a pitcher to entice them to sign with them. “
Doctored Balls lawsuit from the Scribd Houston Chronicle
Although technically against the rules of the big leagues, pitchers have long used foreign substances to better catch baseball while referees and opponents close something. Better traction means better control – and tests are better when pitchers can control their arsenal, which throws hard.
The lawsuit alleges that the angels had evidence that Cole, Verlander, Edwin Jackson, Max Scherzer, Felix Hernandez, Corey Kluber, Joba Chamberlain, Adam Wainwright and Tyler Chatwood were involved.
In November, Major League Baseball and the Angels filed a motion to dismiss the case. Harkins and his lawyers objected Thursday with 373 pages of evidence in support of the case ahead. Cole’s text message to Harkins is among them. So is a note to league owners, general managers and managers from former MLB senior vice president Chris Young from February 28, 2020.
Young, who is now general manager of the Texas Rangers, recalled that club staff are strictly prohibited from providing, implementing, creating, concealing or otherwise facilitating the use of foreign substances by players on the field. “Three days later, Harkins was fired.
Verlander sent a message to Harkins on March 6, telling him he “regretted hearing about it —“. Verlander asked Harkins to call him to discuss something he had heard from teammate Martin Maldonado.
According to Harkins’ notes on his conversation with Verlander, Maldonado told Verlander that Angels club house officials believed Verlander had given Harkins to MLB. Verlander said in a text message to Harkins that “Maldonado had just told me he had heard something that was completely untrue!”
Verlander and Harkins spoke on March 7. The notes of the conversation were included in the evidence. According to Harkins, Verlander said, “it sounds like your name came from the Astros investigation.”
“Justin can’t believe these are bulls – to go out in the media,” Harkins wrote in his notes to the conversation. “(Verlander) says Astros has been hurt by the media and players against players.”
Pitcher Mike Fears, with whom Harkins claims Verlander spoke, signaled the Houston sign theft scandal in November 2019, leading to a “check” that apparently barred Verlander from publicly advocating for Harkins.