Michael Pineda suspended 10 games

ByWallace Matthews ESPN logo
Friday, April 25, 2014

BOSTON -- New York Yankees pitcher Michael Pineda has been suspended 10 games by Major League Baseball "for possessing a foreign substance on his person" in Wednesday night's game against the Boston Red Sox.

Pineda said he would not appeal the suspension, which is set to begin Thursday night. He is eligible to return May 5 at the Los Angeles Angels.

"I'll accept it because I know I made a mistake," Pineda said. "That's it."

Pineda was ejected by plate umpire Gerry Davis in the second inning of Wednesday's 5-1 loss to the Red Sox after Boston manager John Farrell complained about a smear of something on the right side of Pineda's neck. Pineda later admitted the substance was pine tar, banned for use by pitchers under section 8.02 of the MLB rulebook, but said he was using it merely to improve his grip on the ball in the blustery, 50-degree weather.

"The truth is that I feel [stupid]," he told ESPNDeportes.com. "It was a last-minute decision when I went out in the second inning, and since I was unable to see myself, I did not know how much I had put on until I saw it on video.

"I put it on my neck because it is a part of my body I always touch when I pitch. I knew there would be cameras there, but because it was a last-minute decision, I did not realize the amount I had put on."

Previously, Pineda had been suspected of using pine tar in a game against the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium on April 10 when television cameras caught a shiny substance on the palm of his pitching hand. That night, Farrell did not protest and no action was taken against Pineda.

"I think there are some things, this being one of them, inside the game that pitchers, particularly in climates like last night, you're looking for some sort of grip," Farrell said. "I think there are probably ways you can be a little more discreet."

Yankees manager Joe Girardi said Pineda had acted on his own during Wednesday night's game, and GM Brian Cashman expressed "embarrassment" on behalf of the organization while saying the responsibility for the transgression was primarily Pineda's.

"Nobody tell me," Pineda said Thursday. "I did it by myself."

Girardi said he thought Pineda understood the seriousness of his action, "but I think he got caught up in the moment of competing and it got the best of him."

Pineda said the Yankees talked to him about the usage of pine tar and the ramifications after his previous start against the Red Sox.

"The first time they talked to me what was going to happen," Pineda said. "I said, 'OK.' Last night I make a mistake because I don't really feel the ball in the first inning. I was trying to be careful not to hit somebody on the other team. I used it because I want to make a good pitch in the game. The pine tar is pine tar. Pine tar does not make me throw more hard. It helps me to feel a better grip on the mound."

Pineda said he had never used pine tar before this season. He spent his first season in the majors with the Seattle Mariners in 2011, then missed the past two with the Yankees following right shoulder surgery. He also said he didn't use pine tar in a start against the Chicago Cubs in between his Red Sox outings.

Girardi also said he "wouldn't be against coming up with an idea" to modify the rule so pitchers could get a better grip on the ball in cold weather. "It would be a great time for someone to start looking at" finding one substance pitchers would be allowed to use, he said.

Red Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski understood why Pineda used the pine tar.

"I don't have a problem with guys that do it," he said. "I know as a hitter, I want to get in there and know the guy has a grip.

"Put it on your hat, put it on your pants, your belt, put it on your glove, whatever you have to do. You just can't do it that blatantly. That was what the biggest issue was. No one has an issue with him doing it. It's just more of the fact that it's so blatant."

The suspension should cost Pineda two starts because the Yankees have an off day on April 28. The club's rotation already is missing Ivan Nova, who has a torn elbow ligament. Girardi indicated David Phelps would take Pineda's turn in the rotation. Phelps came into Wednesday's game with two outs in the second after Pineda was ejected.

"If MLB decided that was my punishment, then I accept that as fair punishment," Pineda told ESPNDeportes.com. "I certainly made a mistake and I should pay for it."

Information from ESPNNewYork.com's Andrew Marchand, ESPNDeportes.com and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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