This time, Michael Pineda took the whole pine-tar thing a smear too far.
The New York Yankees pitcher had dirt or gunk or goo or something on his hand the last time he faced the Boston Red Sox, on April 11, and there was nary a peep from Manager John Farrell. On Wednesday night, though, the stuff was right there on his neck and Farrell couldn’t — and wouldn’t — look the other way. “I fully respect that on a cold night, you’re trying to get a grip, but when it’s that obvious something has got to be said,” Farrell said. He complained to umpires, who examined Pineda’s neck like it was the Zapruder film and banished him to the showers. There, Pineda no doubt had time to ponder the length of his suspension and/or the amount of the fine he was facing from baseball.
The incident left the Yankees embarrassed, but at least they couldn’t say they were shocked — shocked — that their pitcher had some pine tar on his person again.
“I think we’re all embarrassed,” Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman said. “We as a group are embarrassed that this has taken place. I think Michael is embarrassed. It’s just obviously a bad situation, and it clearly forced the opponents’ hand to do something that I’m sure they didn’t want to do, but they had no choice but to do. Obviously we’ll deal with the ramifications of that now.”
There was no conspiracy, Pineda insisted. “I did it by myself,” Pineda said. “Nobody helped me with it.”
Let’s face it, an awful lot of players use pine tar to get a grip, especially when it’s cold. Pineda erred by being so blatant and that error will cost the Yankees, who are likely to lose one of the hottest pitchers in the American League for a while. Coming into the game, Pineda was 2-1 with a 1.00 earned run average and had not allowed more than one run in a start. But he gave up four hits and two runs to the Red Sox and dropped to 2-2 as New York lost, 5-1.
“He’s a young kid,” Yankees Manager Joe Girardi said of Pineda, who is 25. “I don’t think he’s trying to do anything to cheat, I think he’s trying to just go out there and compete. He used bad judgment tonight. He’ll admit to that.”