NEW YORK — Add Shane Victorino to the list of Boston Red Sox players unfazed by the Michael Pineda pine tar controversy.
Victorino, who’s currently on the disabled list with a hamstring strain, didn’t play Thursday night when Pineda appeared to use a foreign substance on his throwing hand while leading the Yankees to a 4-1 victory over the Red Sox. The outfielder had a front-row seat for the incident, though, and he said Friday he thinks too much is being made of the situation.
“It is what it is,” Victorino said. “We can sit here, and it’s done with. Let the league handle it. It’s out of our hands. We obviously didn’t say anything about it, so it is what it is.
“I don’t take away from (Pineda’s) performance. He still pitched well. Does (pine tar) make the ball do that much? I have no idea. I’m not a pitcher. I don’t know what it does.”
While Victorino stressed several times Friday that Pineda is a good pitcher whose success against the Red Sox had nothing to do with some extra goop, The Flyin’ Hawaiian admitted he’s never seen an instance in which a pitcher using a foreign substance was so noticeable.
“Guys, I’m not going to sit here and critique or get too deep into this. The bottom line is last night was obvious,” Victorino said. “If you guys want to sit here and get an opinion from me, it was obvious that something was going on. I’m sure every pitcher does it for the purpose of getting a better grip or whatever, but last night, to me, was just flat-out blatant.”
Several Red Sox players said after Thursday’s game they didn’t notice the substance on Pineda’s hand. Manager John Farrell said he wasn’t aware until the fourth inning and that Pineda’s palm was clean when the right-hander went back out for the fifth inning. Nevertheless, there’s a widespread sentiment within the Red Sox’s clubhouse that using a grip enhancer isn’t the worst thing in the world, as it actually makes the game safer given the velocity with which some pitchers throw the ball.
“Theoretically, everybody says that pitchers do it (and) pitchers do it for a better grip,” Victorino said. “As a hitter, hey, do what you got to do from letting that ball going straight and hitting me in the head. I’m fine with that. But last night, to me, my opinion was that was a little too overboard (and) a little blatant. Again, I didn’t play, so I’m not going to sit here and critique the situation. All I know is it was obvious.”
Obvious? Yes. Egregious? Debatable.
The Red Sox don’t seem too concerned, and the league issued a statement Friday saying it won’t suspend Pineda because Boston didn’t bring the situation to the umpires’ attention during Thursday’s game.