BOSTON – New York Yankees right-hander Michael Pineda is facing a suspension after he was ejected for using an illegal substance in the second inning of a 5-1 loss to the Boston Red Sox on Wednesday night.
The television broadcast from Boston-area station NESN picked up a shot of Pineda having a brown substance, believed to be pine tar, smeared on his neck. After it was brought to the attention of the umpiring crew by Red Sox manager John Farrell, Pineda was ejected.
Following Wednesday’s game, Yankees manager Joe Girardi made no secret about whose decision it was to use a foreign substance.
“It was something Michael chose to do on his own after the first inning,” Girardi told reporters. “Michael used poor judgment tonight. He’ll admit to that.”
Talking to reporters following the loss, Pineda conceded that he made the decision to use pine tar during the second inning.
“In the first inning, I could not feel the ball and I didn’t want to hit anybody so I put it on,” Pineda admitted.
The 25-year-old right-hander declared that he would learn from the mistake and would not let it happen again. Pineda also revealed that he apologized to his teammates for his decision.
According to Official Rule 8.02 (b), “The pitcher shall not have on his person, or in his possession, any foreign substance.” The rule indicates that “the pitcher shall be ejected immediately from the game and shall be suspended automatically.” In National Association (Minor Leagues) games, the suspension is automatically set at ten games.
However, Major League Baseball does have precedence to set a different suspension length. In 2012, Tampa Bay Rays reliever Joel Peralta was caught with pine tar on his glove and suspended for eight games.
Pineda’s ejection comes less than two weeks after Pineda was shown to have been using pine tar against the same Red Sox team. When asked after that game, Pineda claimed that he had dirt on his hand which appeared to be a foreign substance due to sweat.
At that time, Farrell indicated that he heard about the substance in the fourth inning, but when Pineda returned to the mound to pitch in the fifth inning, the substance had disappeared. It was revealed that Pineda would not face discipline at that time since the umpires did not observe the substance and the issue was not raised by the opposing team.
After Pineda’s ejection, Girardi shoved a remotely-controlled ESPN camera that was mounted on the team’s dugout. The camera was focusing in on Pineda speaking with pitching coach Larry Rothschild and head trainer Steve Donohue.
“I don’t want cameras down in our tunnel” Girardi said when asked about the incident, noting that it was the team’s private area. “I didn’t do anything to hurt the camera…you guys are acting like I ripped it apart.”
Including Wednesday’s game, Pineda owns a 1.83 ERA and 1.02 WHIP in 19 2/3 innings this season. David Phelps came on in relief of Pineda in what quickly became a long night for the Yankee bullpen.