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Aces Gerrit Cole, Justin Verlander, and Max Scherzer are among many well-known pitchers to have been implicated as utilizing a grip-enhancing compound by former Angels clubhouse attendant Bubba Harkins in a claim against the team and Major League Baseball that accuses them of making him a scapegoat.

Harkins, who was fired last March as the league started to crack down on the use of foreign compounds, submitted a text message from Cole as evidence in “opposition to a demand to dismiss the initial lawsuit sent by Harkins’ lawyers in August,” according to ESPN’s Alden Gonzalez.

Cole’s message to Harkins is from January 2019 and checks out: “Hey Bubba, it’s Gerrit Cole. I was questioning if you could assist me out with this sticky situation[winky face emoji] We don’t see you till May, but we have some road games in April that are in winter places. The stuff I had last year seizes up when it gets cold …”

Though using compounds (consisting of however not limited to pine tar and suntan lotion) has been a long-accepted, if not technically legal, aspect of pitching, MLB released a memo in February 2020 disavowing the practice. Harkins’ fit declares that he did not get the memo, and therefore didn’t receive an appropriate warning prior to his firing.

Harkins’ suit claims that his termination has actually left him unemployable, and keeps in mind that no other person has been penalized for comparable factors.


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