Less than two weeks after last being suspected of having a foreign substance on his hand, Yankees’ starter Michael Pineda was caught with a foreign substance on his neck in the second inning of Wednesday’s game. Both games were in series against the Yankees’ rivals the Boston Red Sox.
According to MLB.com the Red Sox NESN television broadcast caught a shot of the substance smeared on Pineda’s next. Red Sox manager John Farrell immediately took the information to the the umpires who went out and examined Pineda. They started with his glove and hand but found the substance smudged on his neck. Major League Baseball Official Rule 8.02 states:
“The pitcher shall not apply a foreign substance of any kind to the ball.” For any violation of the rule, the official rules indicate that “the pitcher shall be ejected immediately from the game and shall be suspended automatically for 10 games.”
After the game it was revealed that the foreign substance was in fact pine tar. Pineda admitted to using it but not to cheat to use it to better control the ball so he would not hit anyone.
“It was a really cold night and in the first inning I (couldn’t) feel the ball. I don’t want to like hit anybody so I decided to use it.”
Yankees’ general manager Brian Cashman said that the team was very embarrassed by Pineda’s actions but overall the majority of both teams seemed to understand to a point. A bunch of the Red Sox players shrugged the incident off saying that it is common practice in the major leagues, although if that is true the public and MLB don’t seem to know anything about it. The first time a foreign substance was spotted on Pineda back on April 10th John Farrell did not lodge a complaint and Pineda was able to continue playing in the game. This time the offense was so blatant that Farrell had no choice but to speak up.
Pineda, whose mastery of the English language has not fully developed yet, might not have understood fully the repercussions for using pine tar. Yankees’ pitching coach Larry Rothschild said of the 25-year old Pineda,
“It’s one of those things where I’m not sure he understood what the penalties were, even though I had told him what could happen, I think in his mind, he needed to grip the baseball. When it’s cold out, and windy, those balls are like cue balls, and it makes it really tough. Look, he’s not doing anything to try to change things and get a hitter out — scuffing the ball, using Vaseline or anything like that. It was strictly what he said, and that’s trying to get a better grip on the baseball.”
Pineda was reportedly almost in tears in the Yankees’ club and apologized to every one of his teammates. He now understands the consequences of using pine tar (or any substance) on the baseball. According to reports he seemed to be genuinely upset.
“I know I made a mistake today, and I feel so sad,” Pineda said. “I learn from this mistake. It won’t happen again.”
Unfortunately for the Yankees Pineda will likely be facing a 10-game suspension. Their pitching rotation is already depleted as it was learned last week that Ivan Nova would have season ending Tommy John Surgery. Nova is being replaced by Vidal Nuno. Yankees’ manager Joe Girardi will now have to find a replacement for Pineda on short notice. But even Girardi was not angry with the young pitcher saying,
“I’m not going to get mad at him,” Girardi said. “The kid’s doing the best he can, he’s trying to compete. He feels bad, he feels like he let his teammates down. But as I said to Michael, ‘Hey, this is a little bump, we’ll get through this, we’ll find a way to get through this and you’ll be back pitching before you know it.'”
Hopefully, Pineda’s learned the rules of the game and this won’t be a problem the next time the Red Sox and the Yankees face off. It’s just hard to believe that he could so blatantly break the same rule twice. Former Red Sox player Gabe Kaplar said it best via Twitter,
C’mon, Pineda. This is like getting pulled over by a cop, him not giving you a ticket, & you peeling out in front of him as you drive away.
— gabe kapler (@gabekapler) April 23, 2014