NEW YORK — Red Sox manager John Farrell had time to mull over Thursday’s pine tar controversy involving Yankees pitcher Michael Pineda before again speaking with reporters Friday at Yankee Stadium. The skipper’s tune didn’t change one bit.
Farrell, who downplayed the significance of Pineda’s alleged use of a foreign substance Thursday, reiterated Friday that the incident wasn’t a big deal.
“I think in conditions like last night, particularly this time of the year when it’s so cold, it’s not uncommon for pitchers to try to get a grip in some way,” Farrell said. “ … We’re more focused on what we need to do offensively to kind of get going rather than taking anything away from (Pineda’s) abilities.”
Farrell said he became aware of the alleged pine tar on Pineda’s hand in the fourth inning Thursday. But by the time Farrell could consider approaching the umpires in the fifth inning, the substance was gone, thus minimizing the fallout of Pineda’s alleged bending of the rules.
If Pineda really did use a foreign substance, there are some who simply don’t care. He wouldn’t be the first or last hurler to use something to get a better handle on the baseball, even if it’s not the norm or within the rules.
“I wouldn’t use a broad brush in this,” Farrell said. “ … I wouldn’t say that every pitcher uses something. And I think that’s where we have to be careful in this. (But) again, the one thing I’ll say is Pineda is a talented guy and to get a little added grip, does that change the outcome of (Thursday’s) game? I would say, ‘absolutely not.’”
Several Sox players said after Thursday’s game they’d actually prefer to see pitchers enhance their grip, as it could make the game safer.
“As an offensive players, it’s perfectly legal to gain a grip on the bat,” Farrell said Friday. “More than anything, in conditions like we’re dealing with right now, the coldness, guys are just trying to get a grip. I think it’s somewhat accepted to a certain level.”
The biggest issue — and perhaps the only issue, judging by the reaction in both clubhouses — with Pineda on Thursday seemed to be how blatant he was in his use of the substance.
“If a pitcher is going to use some additive to gain a grip, you’d like to think he’d be a little bit more discreet,” Farrell said.
Major League Baseball issued a statement Friday saying it won’t suspend Pineda.
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