ST. LOUIS — Cardinals reliever Brett Cecil knew the video of the ball getting stuck on Yadier Molina’s chest protector would go viral.
“I fully expected that because I’ve never seen it,” Cecil said before St. Louis played Cincinnati on Friday. “I’ve been playing baseball for a long time and I’ve never seen it, so I’m sure there is an uproar about it. But if I could explain it I would, but I can’t.”
Whatever happened, it’s over. Major League Baseball has looked into the bizarre play involving the star St. Louis catcher and determined there wasn’t any rules violation.
Molina said he had no idea how Cecil’s pitch bounced into his protector and clung to it Thursday against the Cubs. He was asked postgame if he put something sticky there and the Gold Glove star dismissed it as a “dumb question.”
Molina wasn’t available to the media Friday afternoon.
Catchers sometimes dab pine tar on their shin guards to help give them a better grip on throws.
MLB Rule 3.01 prohibits players from intentionally discoloring or damaging balls with foreign substances, and the penalty is an ejection and 10-game suspension.
But simply having sandpaper, an emery board or some sticky agent on a player’s uniform or in his possession is only a violation for the pitcher.
The Cardinals led in the seventh inning when Cecil got Cubs pinch hitter Matt Szczur to strike out on a pitch in the dirt. The ball skipped up and stuck to Molina’s protector by the time he located it, Szczur was safely at first base.
The Cubs turned their good fortune into a four-run rally and a win at Busch Stadium.
“I really don’t have any explanation for it,” Cecil said. “I don’t use any foreign substances. You guys saw Yadi spinning around and the ball didn’t even come off.”
“I think if I was throwing with something that sticky, I would be throwing 45-foot dirt balls and that’s not the case. Your guess is as good as mine,” he said.
Cardinals backup catcher Eric Fryer said he wasn’t sure what happened, either.
“I thought it got stuck underneath or something, because he was down there looking around,” Fryer said. “You’re always looking on the ground because it’s normally not going to get stuck underneath there or anywhere else. It’ just one of those crazy plays.”
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, a former catcher himself, couldn’t explain it a day later.
“I still haven’t talked to anybody about that whole thing yesterday,” Matheny said. “I don’t know if you can throw something on the ball and make that happen. I don’t know if you put liquid nails on the ball and make that happen. I have nothing to tell you.”
Cincinnati manager Bryan Price said he’s seen the ball get wedged underneath chest protectors, but never stuck on them.
“I didn’t know if they were using a Velcro ball and a Velcro chest protector,” Price said. “You just try to figure out how can it stick. There’s no loose pieces to a baseball to get wedged into a crease. To be honest with you, I didn’t research it.”
Cecil said he and Molina have nothing to hide.
“It’s not difficult for me because I know I don’t put anything on the ball,” Cecil said. “I know Yadi doesn’t put anything on his chest protectors. . I know people are going to speculate and teams are going to speculate, but I’ll give you every one of my gloves.”