MILWAUKEE — Some of the Cubs were still laughing Friday about the ball that got stuck to Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina’s chest protector for no apparent baseball reason Thursday.
But nobody was calling for Major League Baseball to investigate or suggesting the Cardinals were loading the ball — or the chest protector — even if they were.
In fact, veteran catcher Miguel Montero suggested he might have learned a new trick from Molina.
‘‘Maybe that’s why he blocks the ball and the ball dies right there,’’ said Montero, who admitted he sometimes puts sticky stuff on his shin guard for grip. ‘‘I don’t think it’s illegal. It’s smart, though. I might think of doing it now. You learn something new every day.’’
For the record, Molina and Cardinals pitcher Brett Cecil denied using pine tar, Tuf-Skin spray or any other sticky substance on the ball or the chest protector. Cecil offered Friday to let reporters look at all his gloves.
After the game Thursday, Molina called a query about putting stuff on his chest protector ‘‘a dumb question.’’
By rule, the only thing that matters is if the substance was on the ball or if it was on the pitcher’s ‘‘person or in his possession.’’
Rule 3.01 prohibits any player from ‘‘intentionally discolor[ing] or damag[ing] the ball by rubbing it with soil, rosin, paraffin, licorice, sandpaper, emery paper or other foreign substance.’’
The penalty is an ejection and a 10-game suspension.
The umpire obviously found no cause for ejection, and MLB has no grounds for action. Besides, the inning that began with that play turned into a four-run inning and a Cubs victory.
‘‘It’s probably like Tuf-Skin,’’ said outfielder Jason Heyward, who was teammates with Molina in 2015. ‘‘I’ve never seen that happen. We joked about it the next time I came to the plate.
‘‘The guys that aren’t pitchers, you see them have stuff on them all the time, on the glove or whatever. That’s fine. Catchers have stuff all the time. Some catchers cut the ball, whatever. I’m not saying he does it, obviously. . . . Part of the game.’’
Another record for Bryant
When third baseman Kris Bryant flied to the wall in right field in his first at-bat Friday, he broke the record for most hitless at-bats (14) to start a season for a reigning league MVP.
The previous record? That was held by former Cubs second baseman Ryne Sandberg, who was 0-for-13 to start a 1985 season in which he hit .305 with 26 home runs and an .868 OPS.
Bryant, by the way, reached in his next two at-bats, including his first hit of the season in the fifth. It was an infield hit in which he grounded a ball that hit third base, then beat the throw to first.
Left-hander Brian Duensing, who’s on the disabled list (back spasms), pitched a 1-2-3 seventh inning in Class AAA Iowa’s season opener Thursday.
Cubs manager Joe Maddon suggested no specific timeline or workload plans for Duensing before activating him to the big-league roster, but indications are he might return by the series next weekend against the Pirates.
If Duensing is activated, it likely would mean a decision between bench players Matt Szczur and Tommy La Stella as the corresponding move. La Stella would be more likely to be sent down because he has minor-league options.
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