By Jason Schott - @JESchott19
Michael Pineda was ejected from Wednesday night's Yankees-Red Sox game for using pine tar to grip the ball, in clear violation of the rules, just two weeks after being caught doing the same thing. The Yankees went on to lose, 5-1, to the Red Sox.
Pineda had pine tar on his right hand during his first start against the Red Sox on April 10th at Yankee Stadium. He cleaned his hand before coming out for the fifth inning and the Red Sox didn't complain about it after the game, respecting the safety factor of the matter, that it would help Pineda grip the ball better on a cold night. He was warned the next day by Major League Baseball.
In this one, Pineda started off shaky, with Boston scoring a couple of runs on him in the first inning on Dustin Pedroia and A.J. Pierzynski RBI singles.
When Pineda came out for the bottom of the second inning, cameras picked up that he had something on his neck that looked like pine tar. He retired the first two hitters for Boston, and had a 1-2 count on Grady Sizemore.
At this point, Boston Manager John Farrell came out of the dugout to ask home plate umpire Gerry Davis to look at Pineda. Farrell said, "I felt like it was a necessity to say something. I fully respect on a cold night trying to get a little bit of a grip, but when it's that obvious, something has got to be said...Our awareness was heightened given what we've seen in the past and it was confirmed today."
Davis checked Pineda's hands and saw nothing, then reached for the right side of Pineda's neck, where he felt the pine tar, and immediately ejected Pineda.
MLB rule 8.02 states, "The pitcher shall not apply a foreign substance of any kind to the ball." It also stated that if a pitcher is found to be breaking the rule, he will be suspended immediately. Pineda now faces what is assumed to be an 8-to-10 game suspension based on past punishments for this. Rays pitcher Joel Peralta was the most recent pitcher suspended for this in 2012, and he got eight games.
Pineda was asked if he thought the Red Sox might look for pine tar considering he did it two weeks ago, and he said, "I don't know...I don't know." When asked if he put it on himself, he said, "Yeah, I did it by myself...It was pine tar." On if he's scared of being suspended, he said, "I apologized to my teammates, you know, I will learn from this mistake, won't happen again."
On if the Yankees talked to him about this, Pineda said, "Nobody talked to me about that and I did it because I couldn't feel the ball in the first inning. I did it by myself." On if he was concerned that the cameras would pick up pine tar on him like on April 10th, "I don't know...this is the past, I'm not talking about it. I know I made a mistake today, that's it."
Yankees Manager Joe Girardi was asked if he saw it, "I did not, no. He did not have it on when the game started and I guess from what I understand he had trouble gripping the ball and he put it on in the second inning. Obviously, that's a problem, we're going to have to deal with the consequences and Michael's going to have to deal with it, but we'll get through it."
On if he saw it on Pineda, Girardi said, "No, I did not. I never saw it on Michael, so, um, I didn't look at Michael. Gerry (Davis) told me he clearly had something on his neck, and I just said, 'OK,' and I got Phelpsie (David Phelps) ready and worried about trying to keep the score (Boston 2-0) the same."
On if he spoke to Pineda about the pine tar issue before the game, Girardi said, "Well, obviously we always have discussions with all our pitchers on things that we're dealing with, I mean, that's what we do. We don't ignore situations, we handle situations, and it's something Michael chose to do after the first inning. He had a hard time gripping the baseball. Conditions are not conducive to gripping a baseball, and you know, unknown to us, he put it on and went out there."
On Pineda's judgment, Girardi said, "Well, I mean, it's a young kid, I don't think he's trying to do anything to cheat. I think he's trying to just go out there and compete. It's unfortunate it happened, but as I said, we'll deal with it, we'll get through this. It's a little bump in the road, and we'll be all right."
"I'm not gonna get mad at him. The kid's doing the best he can, he's trying to compete, and that's what he's trying to do. I don't think he's trying to get an edge on anyone. He's a young man that's been through a lot, with rehab, he's worked his tail end to get out to this start he had and he made an error in judgment," said Girardi.