BOSTON — The Red Sox’s overall stance on Michael Pineda’s pine tar use can best be summarized with a resounding, “C’mon, man.”
Pineda, who was questioned for allegedly using pine tar in his start against Boston on April 10, was ejected in the second inning of Wednesday’s Red Sox-Yankees game for having pine tar on his neck — which is illegal. Red Sox manager John Farrell and several players in the Boston clubhouse said after Wednesday’s game they didn’t have an issue with Pineda using something to gain a grip on the baseball but that the Yankees starter went a little overboard with his negligence.
“You could see it,” Farrell said after the Red Sox’s 5-1 win at Fenway Park. “I could see it from the dugout. It was confirmed by a number of camera angles in the ballpark. And given the last time we faced him, I felt like it was a necessity to say something.
“I fully respect on a cold night you’re trying to get a little bit of a grip, but when it’s that obvious, something has got to be said.”
Pineda’s pine tar use became obvious in the second inning Wednesday, as TV cameras — as they did April 10 in New York — picked up on a black smudge. This time, the pine tar was located on Pineda’s neck rather than his throwing hand, but the incident was even more egregious given that the pitcher already was under a microscope.
“Again, I think there’s an accepted level of some additive used to gain a grip,” Farrell said. “Just felt like in the two starts that we’ve had against Pineda, that’s been a little bit above that.
“Any substance is illegal,” the Red Sox skipper added. “But I think there’s a certain acceptance that it’s used and it’s discreetly used. Personally, I don’t think this is the case (here).”
Several players downplayed the significance of Pineda’s pine tar use following the first incident at Yankee Stadium. The sentiment in the Red Sox’s clubhouse didn’t change too much after Wednesday’s ejection, but there was a general consensus that while using a substance like pine tar is expected — and, in some cases, welcomed — one must meet a certain level of appropriateness.
“A lot of pitchers in the league do it, and you don’t really see spots like that to where it’s so blatant,” first baseman Mike Napoli said. “It is what it is. I’d rather have a guy have control over the ball when it’s cold, but you really can’t do it that way.”
A.J. Pierzynski, currently in his 17th season as a big league catcher, said he’s never seen an instance as unconcealed as Wednesday’s.
“I don’t have a problem with guys who do it,” Pierzynski said. “I know as a hitter, I want to get in there and know the guy has (control), especially on a night when it’s cold (and) it was windy. Put it on your hat, put it on your pants, put it on your belt, put it on your glove, whatever you’ve got to do. But at some point, you just can’t do it that blatantly, and I think that’s what the biggest issue was. No one has an issue with him doing it. I think it’s more of the fact he just did it so blatantly.”
Pierzynski said Farrell at first didn’t want to have Pineda checked out. But when a player pushes the envelope that far, it’s hard to justify not intervening, and that’s what the Red Sox finally did in the second inning.
“It is surprising, especially being on TV the first time we play him,” Napoli said. “Every pitcher does it. You just can’t have it out there blatantly showing. It’s just kind of silly.”