“I can take a tool belt full of whatever and give it to some of the best pitchers in the game, and they’re not going to do the things I did in the postseason,” Rogers said Saturday in an interview with The Associated Press. “I did nothing different than any other pitcher. “I don’t feel bad about anything. I’m proud of my achievements and I don’t have any regrets.” LAKELAND, Fla. – Kenny Rogers’ sensational postseason was smudged as soon as TV cameras caught that brownish substance on his pitching hand. But almost four months later, the Detroit Tigers’ pitcher laughs at anyone who thinks he threw 23 consecutive scoreless innings last October because he was cheating. The left-hander helped the Tigers reach the World Series for the first time since 1984, but that’s where he wound up in the middle of another ruckus – Smudgegate. Cameras showed a brown substance on his left hand in the first inning of Game 2 of the World Series, and St. Louis manager Tony La Russa brought it to the umpires’ attention. Rogers’ hand was clean when he came out for the second inning, and he went on to pitch shutout ball in Detroit’s only victory of the Series. Rogers insisted then that mud, resin, spit and dirt was what everyone saw at the base of his left thumb – not pine tar or anything else illegal. La Russa didn’t buy the explanation. “Didn’t look like dirt,” he said. On Friday, baseball’s playing rules committee approved changes that would eject and suspend players for intentionally defacing or discoloring a ball. Umpires have the discretion to issue only a warning if they determine a pitcher didn’t intend to alter the characteristics of a pitch. Previously, such a pitch was called a ball, a warning was issued and the violation was announced. “I don’t think that will change anything one bit,” Rogers said. “We all want grip on the ball, and we’re all going to do what it takes to do that in every climate. I think hitters want pitchers to have a grip on that baseball, too, because guys throw pretty hard and when you do lose one, it’s usually up and in.” The 42-year-old Rogers said pitchers have been forced to make changes because they’re throwing baseballs that are not made the way they used to be. “They’re totally different than they were 10 years ago, or even five years ago,” he insisted. “Baseball can say all it wants, but today’s baseballs are as hard as rocks. Players are going to make an adjustment to that so that they can compete.” A fierce competitiveness, cerebral approach and tireless work ethic have helped Rogers remain effective for a long time. He has gone from a hard-throwing pitcher to a crafty one during a career that began in 1989 with the Texas Rangers and included stops with Oakland, Minnesota and both teams in New York. The four-time all-star and five-time Gold Glove winner has a 207-139 record, including a 49-25 mark the past three years. Some snickered when Detroit gave him a $16 million, two-year contract before last season, but he and the team were validated. He put together a third consecutive season with an All-Star appearance and a Gold Glove award. After going 17-8 with a 3.84 ERA during the regular season, Rogers held the Yankees, Athletics and Cardinals without a run in October. He became the first pitcher to have three scoreless starts in one postseason since Christy Mathewson in 1905. After his first World Series start against St. Louis, Rogers was saved for a potential Game 6 – but the Cardinals clinched in five games. All year long off the field, Rogers was popular in the clubhouse, liked by fans and got along well with reporters. But just when people stopped talking about him pushing two cameramen in 2005 – a videotaped tirade that led to a suspension while he was with Texas – Rogers was at the center of another media circus. “It was just something to talk about,” he said. “Did it have any validity? Not a whole lot. I accomplished what I did with hard work, consistency and intensity.” Rogers said he enjoyed his season in Detroit more than any other year of his career, on the field with teammates and coaches, and off the field, with fans and media. He hopes to pitch for the Tigers for another year or two after his current contract expires. “There’s no place I’d rather play than here,” Rogers said. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!
No smudges on Rogers’ rep