New York Yankees starting pitcher Michael Pineda has been suspended 10 games by MLB for having a foreign substance on his neck during the team's most recent loss to the Boston Red Sox.
Major League Baseball's official Twitter feed reported the news on Thursday:
Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports added that Pineda's suspension is paid, per a source:
ESPNNewYork.com's Wallace Matthews reports that Pineda will not vie for an appeal:
The Yanks will be down a man during the suspension according to Mark Feinsand of NY Daily News:
Pineda was ejected in the second inning of Wednesday's 5-1 loss at Fenway Park to the Red Sox after it was determined he had pine tar on his neck. This is the second time in the span of two weeks that Pineda has been suspected for having a foreign substance on his body versus Boston.
In the first instance, Pineda insisted that his hands were getting too sweaty between innings and that the substance on his hands wasn't pine tar, but rather dirt. On Wednesday, it was unmistakable, and it led to a bizarre, humiliating sequence of events that saw Pineda tossed from the game.
MLB.com provided video footage of what transpired, as Pineda exited the mound having yielded four hits and two runs in 1.2 innings:
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman shared his thoughts on the fiasco, per The Boston Globe's Christopher L. Gasper:
I think we’re all embarrassed. We as a group are embarrassed because it takes place. Michael is embarrassed. I think we’re embarrassed that somehow he took the field in a position with that like that. It’s just obviously a bad situation. It clearly forced the opponent’s 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 for that now.
According to the MLB's Official Rule 8.02(a)(2), included in a report by MLB.com's Bryan Hoch, the punishment for a having a foreign substance on one's body is an automatic 10-game suspension. Koch also recorded what Pineda had to say on the matter.
"I know I made a mistake," said Pineda. "I feel so sad today. It was a really cold night and in the first inning I [didn't] have a really good grip on the ball."
Renowned TV and radio personality Jim Rome provided his take on the situation, criticizing Pineda for being so blatant about his bending of the rules:
Wallace Matthews of ESPNNewYork.com reported comments made by New York manager Joe Girardi, who came to Pineda's defense and offered him support:
He's a young kid. 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. [...] I'm not going to get mad at him. The kid's doing the best he can, he's trying to compete. He feels bad, he feels like he let his teammates down. But as I said to Michael, "Hey, this is a little bump, we'll get through this, we'll find a way to get through this and you'll be back pitching before you know it."
Especially playing against such a nemesis as the Red Sox, it's clear that Pineda wanted to be at his best and gain any competitive edge he could. However, he couldn't have handled the situation much worse than he did. This rivalry is among the most heated in sports and was going to be covered on a grand stage, so wiping pine tar on his neck to try to hide it makes Pineda seem oblivious and uncaring about what essentially amounts to cheating.
Although the suspension will only cost him roughly two starts, Pineda will have some serious reflecting to do. The Yankees have to be disappointed in his judgment, and this situation could create some sort of alienating dynamic in the clubhouse between Pineda and his teammates.
There are a lot of lively arms in the major leagues, with confidence playing such a key factor in separating the best from the rest. Pineda is as physically imposing as anyone and has a 1.83 ERA in the 2014 season thus far.
At age 25, it will be interesting to see how Pineda responds to such a saga and the adversity that comes with it in the massive New York media market at this early stage in his career. Having the support of Girardi should be helpful moving forward.