Gerrit Cole may have gotten a reprieve from an, ahem, sticky situation.
Late Monday, Orange County Superior Court judge Geoffrey Glass dismissed a defamation complaint filed by Brian “Bubba” Harkins, the Angels’ former visiting clubhouse manager who was fired last year amidst reports he was providing pitchers an illegal blend of rosin and pine tar to aid their grip.
Harkins' complaint alleged defamation and false light, and after outlining the reasons this practice has been “accepted” in baseball, said that the publicity surrounding his firing impacted his ability to find employment.
“Published statements do not support the allegation that MLB or the Angels authorized those statements,” Glass wrote in his ruling. “In order to hold an organization liable for defamation, the person saying the defamatory things must be authorized to speak on behalf of the organization. … This is not to say that the termination was justified under the circumstances, only that the plaintiff cannot show that these statements were false and defamatory."
Cole, as well as current teammate Corey Kluber and former teammate Justin Verlander, were among the pitchers named in the report that had asked Harkins for the substance, with a January 2019 text from Cole to Harkins submitted as evidence:
"Hey Bubba, it's Gerrit Cole. I was wondering if you could help me out with this sticky situation [winky face emoji]. We don't see you until May, but we have some road games in April that are in cold weather places. The stuff I had last year seizes up when it gets cold ..."
Daniel Rasmussen, one of Harkins’ attorneys, has said they will appeal.
“We’ll regroup, lick our wounds and move to the next level,” Rasmussen said. “None of these cases are easy, so sometimes you have to ask a reviewing court to make sure you’re getting the right answers.”
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