Michael Pineda: 'Dirt' was on hand

ByGordon Edes ESPN logo
Friday, April 11, 2014

NEW YORK -- Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell said it wasn't brought to his attention until the fourth inning Thursday night that Yankees pitcher Michael Pineda had what appeared to be pine tar on the palm of his right hand.

When Pineda -- who after the game said the substance was dirt -- came out for the fifth inning, Farrell said it appeared the pitcher's hand had been wiped clean, so the manager never brought it to the attention of the umpiring crew.

"No one said a word," crew chief Brian O'Nora said. "The Red Sox didn't bring it to our attention, so there's nothing we can do about it."

Added Farrell: "Again, a foreign substance is illegal, but by the time we became aware of it, it was gone."

Pineda led the Yankees to a 4-1 win against the Red Sox, allowing four hits and striking out seven in six innings. Afterward, he was told that some opined that it was pine tar on his hand.

"I don't use pine tar," he said. "It's dirt. I'm sweating on my hand too much in between innings."

Even if Pineda did have pine tar on his hand, a number of Red Sox players considered it a nonissue. That included losing pitcher Clay Buchholz, who faced similar accusations last May in Toronto, when Blue Jays broadcasters including former pitcher Jack Morris said he had what appeared to be rosin sprinkled on sunscreen on his arm.

"No, especially on cold, windy nights, it's tough to get a grip on the baseball," Buchholz said. "I had that instance last year in Toronto, people said I had stuff all over my body you can use -- rosin, water, the whole sunscreen stuff, whatever. I'd rather have a grip on the baseball and semi-know where it's going [than] have no grip and get somebody hurt.

"As hard as [Pineda] was throwing early, ain't no one want to get hit, especially around the head. I don't think any organization would want to do anything about it. Scuffing the ball is one thing, if you're actually creating more control over where you want to throw it, giving you any type of edge. But as long as I've been around, I haven't seen sticky substance give anyone an edge. If it gives them an edge, that's another thing."

MLB rule 8.02 states that a pitcher may not "apply a foreign substance of any kind to the ball." Rule 8.02 (b) states a pitcher may not "have on his person, or in his possession, any foreign substance. For such infraction of this section (b) the penalty shall be immediate ejection from the game. In addition, the pitcher shall be suspended automatically."

Buchholz wasn't the only Red Sox pitcher to be accused last season of having a foreign substance on his person. In Game 1 of the World Series, played in 45-degree weather, pitcher Jon Lester appeared to have a substance in his glove, but the St. Louis Cardinals never raised an objection.

Farrell said that after being apprised of Pineda having something on his hand, he looked for it in the fifth inning.

"Based on where I was told it was located, it looked like the palm of his right hand was clean," Farrell said. "That was the extent of it."

Farrell was asked whether he considered it unusual for a pitcher to use something to get a better grip on the ball.

"Cool weather, looking to get a grip, I can't say it's uncommon," he said. "Guys look to create a grip, but typically you're not looking to be as blatant [as Pineda]."

Asked whether he planned to watch more closely the next time Pineda pitches against Boston, Farrell said: "We'll see how the game unfolds."

Pineda did not allow a hit until rookie Xander Bogaerts lined a single to open the fifth inning. He allowed four hits in all, including a two-out double by David Ortiz in the sixth and a home run by Daniel Nava to open the seventh. He was lifted after the next batter, Bogaerts, grounded another single to left.

Ortiz said he was never aware that Pineda might have had something on his hand and that it was inconsequential if he did.

"Everybody uses pine tar in the league," Ortiz said. "It's not a big deal."

Veteran catcher David Ross, who did not play, said he was not aware of the situation, either.

"I'd rather know where the ball is going for me, personally," he said. "A lot of guys make sure they get a grip in cold weather. I don't think of it as cheating. Some guys might look at it that way. I don't."

Catcher A.J. Pierzynski, who struck out and lined out against Pineda, also expressed no interest in making an issue of what Pineda may have had on his hand.

"I didn't really think about it," he said. "I didn't see it. I don't know, he pitched good. That's it."

The bottom line for Yankees manager Joe Girardi?

"There is really not much for me to speak on concerning that," he said. "All I know is he pitched extremely well and we are glad to have him back."

ESPNNewYork.com's Wallace Matthews and Andrew Marchand contributed to this report.

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