An LA Angels employee previously fired for his involvement with an illegal substance has begun name-dropping current MLB pitchers.
Former LA Angels employee Brian ‘Bubba’ Harkins was fired last March for providing illegal ball-doctoring substances to opposing pitchers.
As reported by the LA Times, a recently released text message shows Yankees ace Gerrit Cole, who was on the Astros at the time, reaching out to Harkins on January 17, 2019, at 11:39 am.
"“Hey Bubba, it’s Gerrit Cole, I was wondering if you could help me out with this stick situation,” Cole wrote, adding a wink emoji. “We don’t see you until May, but we have some road games in April that are in cold places. The stuff I had last year seizes up when it gets cold.”"
The text was submitted Thursday to Orange County Superior Court as evidence by an attorney, claiming Harkins was made to be a “public scapegoat” in Major League Baseball’s attempts to crack down on the use of illegal substances.
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Harkins filed a defamation complaint against the Angels and MLB in Orange County Superior Court on Aug 28. Los Angeles and Major League Baseball dismissed the complaint on Nov 2.
A 55-year old Harkins has spent nearly four decades with the Angels and claimed many players within the organization have used his substances consisting of pine tar and rosin mixtures.
Angels Players named in Harkins’ report
- Troy Percival
- Brendan Donnelly
- Tyler Chatwood
- Kevin Jepsen
- Cam Bedrosian
- Keynan Middleton
- Yusmeiro Petit
- Luke Bard
- Matt Andriese
- Dylan Peters
- Jose Suarez
- Dylan Bundy
Percival reportedly admitted he taught Harkins how to make the mixture in spring training “mostly because it was so dry in Arizona and the balls were so slick out there,” the former closer said.
Alright, should we be surprised this news is coming out? You see things often that don’t look normal on a pitcher’s arms, hands, parts of the uniform, etc. The only difference this time is people are talking.
A former Angels’ batboy has reportedly come out and said Harkins mixing his “secret stuff” was no secret at all. Vance Willet was a visiting clubhouse attendant and Angels’ batboy from 2009 to 2017 and came to the defense of Harkins.
"“To my knowledge, all of the Angels pitchers, coaches, and managers knew about and encouraged the use of Bubba’s mixture,” Willet said. “I specifically recall one occasion when Angels pitcher CJ Wilson approached Bubba and I in the lobby between the two clubhouses. In the conversation, Wilson referred to the mixture as ‘the stuff from the bullpen bag’”."
Harkins also went on to say the MLB has evidence on current players who use illegal substances including Cole, Justin Verlander, Corey Kluber, Max Scherzer, Adam Wainwright, and Felix Hernandez.
A notable illegal substance incident includes Michael Pineda getting suspended 10 games for his pine tar use in a start against the Red Sox in 2014.
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I’m not an expert on these type of claims by any means, but it seems in the case of Cole that the text message could be enough evidence to pursue an investigation if the MLB deems it necessary. If the current Angels named in the report face any consequences, there will likely needs to be more proof before an investigation is launched by Major League Baseball.