Red Sox reliever Kenley Jansen criticizes quality of 'embarrassing' baseballs

Boston Red Sox reliever Kenley Jansen notched his fourth save of the season, closing out a 5–4 win over the Los Angeles Angels on Sunday.

The save was No. 424 of Jansen’s 15-year MLB career, moving him into a tie for fifth place all-time with John Franco.

However, Jansen didn’t want to talk about his career achievements or striking out Mike Trout for the game’s final out in the postgame clubhouse. The current condition of the baseballs he and his peers are playing with was foremost on his mind.

“I don’t know. I just hope we can get better, quality balls. That’s all I’m saying. It’s embarrassing,” he told reporters, including WEEI’s Rob Bradford.

“Of course, pitchers can not use illegal stuff. Great, i agree,” he added. “But rub the balls. I get that we try to favor hitters more now to create offense. We all get it. You can’t pick no more. You’ve got to pitch with the pitch clock. We all get it. But at least give us some good balls, quality balls, to throw strikes. That’s all I’m asking.”

Jansen appeared to struggle with his control, throwing 11 of his 25 pitches for balls. He put the first three Angels batters he faced on base, hitting Logan O’Hoppe, allowing a bloop single to Mickey Moniak and walking Zach Neto.

“If you play in the cold weather, windy and you get pearls out there that aren’t rubbed well,” Jansen told MassLive’s Sean McAdam, “I don’t know where the ball is going. I don’t hit guys, I don’t walk people this much.

“I started get frustrated and pissed off enough that at some point, i didn’t care no more. Any balls that came, I just threw it back until I found a good ball. It’s just brutal.”

Jansen’s complaint is the second public gripe about the condition of MLB’s baseballs this season. Earlier this month, Tampa Bay Rays closer Pete Fairbanks decried the quality of the balls after walking three consecutive batters in a 10–7 loss to the Colorado Rockies.

“They were not uniform from ball to ball. They were horrible,” Fairbanks told the Denver Post‘s Patrick Saunders. “You can mark that down in all caps for me – horrible.”

Baseballs used at Colorado’s Coors Field have been stored in a humidor since 2002 to prevent them from drying out in Denver’s higher altitude. Rockies general manager Bill Schmidt responded to Fairbanks’s complaints by saying MLB oversees the baseball, not the team.

Jansen said his Red Sox teammates have similar complaints, though haven’t stated them publicly.

“I just feel like the league can do better. That’s all I’m saying,” Jansen said, via NESN’s Sean T. McGuire. “Just rub the ball well. It sucks. I don’t want to be the guy who continues to throw the ball out, out. I have a unique pitch, it’s a cutter. And if the ball feels like its pearl, I have nothing to grab. The rosin bag, it’s not like it used to be. It’s tough. That’s all I’m saying.”

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