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Cole struggles to answer question related to ball-doctoring

Adam Hunger / Getty Images Sport / Getty

New York Yankees ace right-hander Gerrit Cole was asked Tuesday if he's ever used Spider Tack, one of the foreign substances being used to enhance spin rate and grip on the ball while pitching.

"I don't quite know how to answer that to be honest," Cole said after an extended pause when asked by Ken Davidoff of the New York Post. "There are customs and practices that have been passed down from older players to younger players from the last generation of players to this generation of players."

Major League Baseball is looking to crack down on the use of foreign substances by pitchers.

"I think there are some things that are certainly out of bounds in that regard and I stood pretty firm in terms of that, in terms of communication with our peers and whatnot ... This is important to a lot of people who love the game ... If MLB wants to legislate some more stuff that's a conversation we can have because ultimately we should all be pointing in the same direction on this."

Cole became a target of scrutiny after Minnesota Twins third baseman Josh Donaldson questioned why his spin rate was declining two days after news broke that four minor-league pitchers were suspended for using foreign substances.

He had slower spin rates on four of his pitches as he stumbled to one of his worst starts of the season. He ultimately allowed five runs on five hits while walking a pair and striking out seven over five innings of work. Still, he didn't appreciate Donaldson's tact.

"I was made aware of (Donaldson's comments) this week," Cole said Tuesday. "Obviously, it's undesirable. But I understand this topic is important to everybody who cares about the game. In regards to Josh, specifically, I kind of felt it was a bit of low-hanging fruit. He's entitled to his opinion and to voice his opinion."

Cole was also identified among several pitchers in legal documents as having requested ball-doctoring substances in the past.

The 30-year-old added he's got more pressing things to deal with at the moment.

"My job and my focus is to get better every day," Cole said, according to Bryan Hoch of "I respectfully have more things on my plate that are more important for us to win games right now than what people say."

The Yankees are opening a series in Minnesota against Donaldson and the Twins on Tuesday night and Cole is slated to start Wednesday's game opposite Randy Dobnak.

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