Michael Pineda, the last time he pitched against the Boston Red Sox, was shown to have an illegal foreign substance smeared on his wrist and arm. The substance was likely pine tar, which though the use of any foreign substance is not permitted under Major League Baseball rules, is generally tolerated under one of baseball’s “unwritten rules.”
As long as a pitcher is not too obvious about it.
In the April 10 game between the New York Yankees and the Red Sox, Boston manager John Farrell said that he didn’t protest the use of pine tar by Michael Pineda because by the time he became aware of it, Pineda had rubbed or washed the pine tar away.
On Wednesday night, however, Pineda was at it again — and this time he was just too obvious about it for Farrell to let the violation slide once again.
At a pre-game press conference, Farrell was asked if he expected Michael Pineda to again go to the pine tar.
“I would expect that if it’s used, it’s more discreet than the last time,” said the Red Sox skipper.
So when 22-year-old Dominican righty Michael Pineda came out for the second inning — after giving up two runs in the first — with a blatantly obvious swath of what appeared to be pine tar on the right side of his neck, where is pitching hand could easily reach it, Farrell was left with no choice.
With two outs in the second inning, and with Pineda having thrown just 40 pitches, Farrell emerged from the Fenway Park first base dugout and, appearing rather reluctant to do it, approached home plate umpire Gerry Davis, asking him to check Michael Pineda for pine tar.
Davis easily found the patch of the stuff on Pineda’s neck, and tossed the Yankees hurler, who brought a sparkling ERA of 1.00 into the contest, out of the game.
The stupidity of Michael Pineda was truly astonishing. With his comment about being “discreet,” Farrell — who endured a round of criticism for failing to challenge the Pineda pine tar last time out — seemed to be signaling that the Yankees starter would get another free pass as long as he kept his use of the substance as hidden as possible.
So when Michael Pineda emerged for the second inning with a bright smear of what appeared to be pine tar on his neck, a deposit of the stuff that was easily picked up by TV cameras covering the game, Farrell was essentially backed into a corner. He had to approach the umpires.
The Red Sox went on to win the game 5-1, behind an eight-inning, 11 strikeout performance from presumably pine tar-free starter John Lackey. Michael Pineda was charged with the loss and now faces a possible suspension or fine.