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Shane Victorino: Michael Pineda’s alleged use of pine tar ‘was too obvious”

04.11.14 at 7:43 pm ET
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NEW YORK —  Shane Victorino seemed to speak for the majority of players in the Red Sox‘€ clubhouse when asked about the controversy surrounding the foreign substance spotted on Michael Pineda‘s right hand Thursday night.

‘€œI don’€t sit here and go ‘€˜˜he’s cheating.’€ Do whatever you’€ve got to do get a grip on that ball so it doesn’€t hit me in the head,” Victorino said. “There are nights when you can’€t feel a grip. Last night was a little overboard. But we couldn’€t hit him. That’€s my point, it’€s going to be a bigger story because the camera caught it. As I said, you can’€t take anything away from Pineda’€s performance but people are going to assume that he did what he did because of that ‘€no. He’€s going to come out clean next outing and be just as good, he can do that.

‘€œWhat are we going to do now? No, it’€s too late. It’€s not like we can take it back. Let the league handle it and whatever decision they decide to make, let them make and it is what it is.’€

Victorino emphasized that while the glob of what appeared to be pine tar was perhaps too prevalent for his liking, it also wasn’€t the reason for Pineda’€s effectiveness.

‘€œIf you need it for grip purpose, as a hitter, do what you’ve got to do on that mound to have a better grip. Everybody does it,’€ the outfielder said. ‘€œSo it’€s not like, as I said, last night was a little obvious, a little overboard. Was that why he did what he did on the mound? Hell, no. Pineda was good.

‘€œI do it all the time from the outfield. When I throw it in I bounce it. Why? Because I want my pitcher to have a scuff on the ball. So when I throw it in from the outfield, I bounce it. There’€s all kinds of ways to do it. Throwing between innings, catcher throws it down, it short-hops, all right, that ball’s scuffed. There’€s so many ways ‘€¦ Throw the ball every time in the dirt, if you want to go that badly. ‘€¦What happened last night was because it got so blatant. It was too obvious.”

Red Sox manager John Farrell also re-emphasized prior to Friday night’€s game that he might have drawn attention to the substance, but by the time he had come to realize it’€s presence Pineda had removed it from the palm of his pitching hand.

In other news, Farrell noted the both Victorino (hamstring) and Will Middlebrooks (calf) would be re-evaluated after the Red Sox’ series in Chicago against the White Sox, with Victorino progressing a bit ahead of the third baseman. At that point the outfielder could be ready for a minor league rehab outing.

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Red Sox lineup: Jackie Bradley Jr. remains in lineup against CC Sabathia

04.11.14 at 3:31 pm ET
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Jackie Bradley Jr.

Jackie Bradley Jr.

NEW YORK — Even with Yankees lefty CC Sabathia on the mound for Friday’s tilt at Yankee Stadium, left-handed hitting Jackie Bradley Jr. remains in the lineup for the Red Sox, playing center field. Grady Sizemore returns to left field, while Jonny Gomes replaces Daniel Nava in right.

Here is the Red Sox’ lineup in the second of a four-game series:

Jonny Gomes RF

Dustin Pedroia 2B

David Ortiz DH

Mike Napoli 1B

Grady Sizemore LF

Xander Bogaerts SS

Ryan Roberts 3B

David Ross C

Jackie Bradley Jr. CF

Jon Lester P

For all the matchups, click here.

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Kevin Millar on M&M: Michael Pineda pine tar controversy ‘not a big deal’

04.11.14 at 12:50 pm ET
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Kevin Millar

Kevin Millar

MLB Network analyst Kevin Millar made his weekly appearance with Mut & Merloni on Friday to talk about Red Sox news, focusing on Thursday’s loss to the Yankees and the controversy surrounding pitcher Michael Pineda. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

In Thursday’s game, Pineda appeared to have pine tar on his wrist and arm as he kept the Red Sox bats in check during New York’s 4-1 victory.

“This goes on, first of all, let’s get that out there,” Millar said. “This goes on in every single clubhouse, every single staff. ‘€¦ It goes on. Has it ever bothered me? Never. It’s part of what goes on. The problem I have with it now if I’m the league, how do you address this. Because I don’t mind it going on, but you can’t carry a pine tar rag in the back pocket. Don’t throw it in my face.

“So, that’s my biggest thing. If I’m the league, how do I address this. Because we’ve seen this from Jon Lester in the postseason last year, we’ve seen it from [Clay] Buchholz in Toronto, we’ve seen it from now Pineda, we’ve seen it with Kenny Rogers in the World Series. And it’s not a bad thing, it doesn’t mean, oh, you’re a bad guy. But don’t throw it in my face now.”

Millar said it benefits everyone if the pitchers have a strong grip on the ball.

“It’s not cheating,” he insisted. “You’ve never thrown a baseball in 37-degree weather. You need some grip. And it goes on with hair mousse, it goes on with hair gel when it dries up, players that go to their hat off, whether it’s rosin — I’ve seen players put rosin in their hair. That’s why we use rosin on the mound. That’s why there’s pine tar and Stickum on our bats. Because if you have a little bit of grip the bat’s not going to go flying out of your hands into the stands and hit somebody in the head.

“It’s the same thing with a baseball. As hitters, I don’t mind a guy having a grip. Because I’d rather him have a grip and throw the ball where he wants to throw the ball than throw it at my neck by accident. So that’s why it’s not a big deal from the players’ standpoint. It’s fun for media to talk about. It’s fun to go, ‘Oh my God, what was it?’ It’s fun to hear Pineda say it’s dirt. Right. Did you just go No. 2 in the bathroom stall? Brother, that ain’t dirt. That’s all the fun stuff. The bottom line is it’s not a big deal.”

For more Red Sox news, visit the team page at weei.com/redsox.

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Red Sox minor league roundup: Rubby De La Rosa dominating; feats of Mookie Betts; Jamie Callahan strikes out everyone

04.11.14 at 12:10 pm ET
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Rubby De La Rosa has been dominant in two starts this year. (AP)

Rubby De La Rosa has been dominant in two starts this year. (AP)

A brief look at the action in the Red Sox minor league system on Friday:

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 7-4 WIN AT BUFFALO (BLUE JAYS)

(BOX)

– When Rubby De La Rosa opened the 2014 season with five dominating innings in which he yielded neither a run nor a walk, the Red Sox were thrilled, but with a caveat — they wanted to see him do it again. On Thursday, he did just that. De La Rosa logged a strong 5 2/3 innings in which he once again attacked his opponents, allowing just one run while permitting two hits (both singles) and walking two while retiring the last 12 batters he faced. He punched out four. In two starts so far, the 25-year-old has allowed one run in 10 2/3 innings (0.84 ERA) while punching out nine and walking two. He’s given up just four hits, with opponents hitting .111 against him to date this season. And he’s been an absolute groundball machine, with 14 of his 15 outs recorded by strikeout or groundball in his first outing and 15 of his 17 outs recorded by strikeout or groundball on Thursday.

Brock Holt added to his strong start to the year by going 3-for-5; he’s now 9-for-22 with a .409/.500/.500 line in 26 plate appearances. Holt did strike out for the first time of the season on Thursday. His nine hits in six games are one shy of the number he amassed in 20 games for Pawtucket last April.

– Outfielder Bryce Brentz went 2-for-5 and clubbed his first homer of the year. He’s now 3-for-9 with a double and homer — his first two extra-base hits of the year — in his last two games. Read the rest of this entry »

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Friday’s Red Sox-Yankees matchups: Jon Lester vs. CC Sabathia

04.11.14 at 8:44 am ET
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The Red Sox will look to bounce back after a controversial loss to the Yankees on Thursday when they send Jon Lester to the mound against CC Sabathia on Friday.

Lester is looking for his first win of the season when he takes the mound at Yankee Stadium. The southpaw, who is making his third start of the year, came away with the loss on April 6 when he gave up four runs, two of which were earned, on seven hits over 7 1/3 innings in a 4-0 loss.

Lester has not given up more than two earned runs in either of his outings this season.

“We created a number of opportunities obviously,” John Farrell said after the loss (via MLB.com). “I thought we squared up a number of balls that got knocked down by some gusty winds in the outfield. But we continue to create chances. I thought Jon Lester was in control of the ballgame here today. They made the most of the hits they put up.”

Lester battled Sabathia when he last took on the Yankees on Sept. 14, 2013. Lester came away with the win as he gave up just one earned run and scattered three hits and five strikeouts over eight innings. Sabathia struggled during his six innings as he gave up five runs on nine hits with four walks and five strikeouts in Boston’s 5-1 win.

Sabathia picked up his first win of 2014 on April 6 after he gave up four earned runs on seven hits during six innings against the Blue Jays — an improvement over his first outing of the year when he earned a loss after giving up six runs in six innings.

Lester is a career 11-5 against the Yankees with a 3.96 ERA and a WHIP of 1.40, while Sabathia has gone 10-11 with a 4.72 ERA and a 1.34 WHIP against the Sox.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Red Sox players talk around controversy surrounding Michael Pineda’s pitching hand

04.10.14 at 11:32 pm ET
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The NESN broadcast showed a substance on the pitching hand of Yankees' pitcher Michael Pineda.

The NESN broadcast showed a substance on the pitching hand of Yankees pitcher Michael Pineda.

NEW YORK — The Red Sox may have lost 4-1 to the Yankees Thursday night — continuing their early-season offensive struggles — but that’s not what dominated the clubhouse questioning following the game.

On most everybody’s mind postgame were thoughts regarding the substance (thought to be pine tar) on the pitching hand of Yankees starter Michael Pineda.

Pineda explained after his six-inning, one-run outing that the substance was dirt, claiming he doesn’t use pine tar. But images of the pitching hand through the first four innings makes the pitcher’s explanation hard to believe. (“€œWas he pitching or hitting?” asked one Red Sox player after seeing a screen shot.)

Yankees manager Joe Girardi said he didn’t notice anything on his pitcher’s hand, commenting after his team’s win, “I really don’t have anything to say on the subject.”

Crew chief Brian O’€™Nora told a pool reporter that the issue was never brought to the umpires’ attention, saying, “I can’€™t comment on it because we’€™re on the field, and the Red Sox didn’t bring it to our attention, so there’€™s nothing we can do about it. If they bring it to our attention then you’ve got to do something, but they didn’t bring it to our attention.”

According to Red Sox manager John Farrell, the reason he never alerted the umpires was because by the time the coaching staff was made aware of the issue, the substance had left the base of Pineda’s right hand.

“I became aware of it in the fourth inning through the video that some had seen. And then when he came back out for the fifth inning, it looked, based on what was told to me where it was located, it looked like the palm of his right hand was clean,” Farrell said. “That’s the extent of it.”€

Read the rest of this entry »

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Closing Time: Michael Pineda spins a (controversial) beauty in beating Red Sox

04.10.14 at 10:03 pm ET
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The NESN broadcast showed a substance on the pitching hand of Yankees' pitcher Michael Pineda.

The NESN broadcast showed a substance on the pitching hand of Yankees pitcher Michael Pineda.

NEW YORK — Michael Pineda pitched very, very well Thursday night. How he did it, however, was a major topic of conversation throughout what turned into a 4-1 Yankees win over the Red Sox.

Pineda finished his six-inning outing allowing just one run on four hits, striking out seven and walking two. But while the righty was getting the Red Sox to chase slider after slider, talk heated up about what appeared to be a significant amount of pine tar on his the base of his pitching hand.

(To read more on the Pineda controversy, click here.)

Clay Buchholz — who came under similar suspicion a year ago when it was pointed out by Toronto broadcasters that he appeared to be using a foreign substance — pitched better than his first start of the season, but it still wasn’t good enough.

Buchholz gave up four runs (two earned) over six innings, striking out six and not walking a batter. The righty, who threw 94 pitches, surrendered seven hits.

Here is what went wrong (and right) for the Red Sox.

WHAT WENT WRONG

Jonathan Herrera, who had been solid defensively at third base, mishandled an easy chance off the bat of Jacoby Ellsbury with nobody out in the fourth inning. The miscue opened the door for the Yankees‘€™ first run, with Brian McCann snapping an 0-for-14 stretch with an RBI single down the right field line, scoring Ellsbury.

– The Yanks made it 2-0 in the fourth when the Red Sox had to settle for a 6-4-3 double play off the bat of Alfonso Soriano, letting Carlos Beltran score from third.

– The Red Sox weren’€™t able to manage a hit off of Pineda until the fifth, when Xander Bogaerts placed a one-out single into left field.

– Buchholz allowed Dean Anna‘€™s first major league homer in the fifth, laying in a 1-1 fastball the second baseman pulled into the right field seats for a 3-0 Yankees lead.

 WHAT WENT RIGHT

Daniel Nava made one of the best defensive plays of the young season, executing a full-on dive of a Yangervis Solarte fly ball leading off the Yankees‘€™ half of the third inning. Nava had to sprint in on the shallow pop-up, proceeding to leave his feet before hauling in first out in the home half of the frame.

– Nava went a long way toward snapping out of his slump, launching a solo home run to right field leading off the seventh inning to cut the Yanks’€™ lead to 4-1. One batter later, Bogaerts singled to drive Pineda from the game. For the Red Sox shortstop, it was his third multi-hit game of the season.

Craig Breslow appeared in his first big league game of the season, throwing a flawless frame.

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