New York Yankees pitcher Michael Pineda was ejected from Wednesday night’s game against the Boston Red Sox during the second inning after it was discovered that he was using a smear of pine tar on his neck to help him pitch.
Pineda claims that he was using the pine tar to help his grip so he wouldn’t hit any batters.
“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,” Larry Rothschild, the Yankees pitching coach, said.
Pitchers have a history of using pine tar as well as other substances to get a better grip on the ball, especially during cold nights like Wednesday.
But the use of tar breaks Major League Baseball’s Official Rule 8.02, which states: “The pitcher shall not apply a foreign substance of any kind to the ball,” making even simple spit balls illegal.
Pineda’s infraction of the rule wouldn’t have been so bad if it was the first time he was caught. But that actually happened on April 10 in a game against the same team.
After the April 10 game, Red Sox manager John Farrell noticed that Pineda had pine tar hidden on his palm.
Farrell didn’t report it, and Red Sox player David Ortiz said after the game that “everybody uses pine tar in the league, it’s not a big deal.”
But Pineda did receive some backlash from fans, the press, his team, as well as the MLB, but he was able to escape punishment.
During Wednesday’s game, Farrell was looking for Pineda to use pine tar again, and Pineda should have guessed that.
Farrell reported the pine tar because Pineda’s use of it was “so blatant.” Home plate umpire Gerry Davis found it and swiftly ejected him.
“I could see it from the dugout. It was confirmed by a number of camera angles in the ballpark. And given the last time we faced him, I felt like it was a necessity to say something,” Farrell said. “I fully respect on a cold night you’re trying to get a little bit of a grip, but when it’s that obvious, something has got to be said.”
Pineda now faces the MLB once again and the Yankees are expecting him to receive a similar punishment to the Joel Peralta’s in 2012. The Rays pitcher was suspended for eight games after pine tar was found in his glove.
Pineda apologized Thursday, according to USA Today: “It was cold, I couldn’t feel the ball in the first inning, I didn’t want to hit nobody,” Pineda said. “I apologize to my teammates, and to everybody. I’ll learn from this mistake. It won’t happen again.”