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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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Red Sox notes: John Farrell explains switch for Grady Sizemore

04.10.14 at 7:37 pm ET
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Jackie Bradley Jr.

Jackie Bradley Jr.

NEW YORK — Prior to his team’€™s series-opening game against the Yankees Thursday night, John Farrell explained why Grady Sizemore had been pushed over to left field, with Jackie Bradley Jr. manning center.

Farrell said the move had more to do with the venue then anything else.

“With the ground that’s going to be covered here in Yankee Stadium is almost the reverse of what we deal with at Fenway,” he said. “To keep Jackie in center field and Grady over in left is for that particular reason — to cover the vast space that’s on the left side of the field.”

The manager then added, “As we sat down and talked with Grady about this, well aware that he has defensively only played center field at the big-league level, he’s played a number of games at the minor league level in left field. The alignment being here at Yankee Stadium, that’s what we’re looking to cover.

“It’s an alignment we’ve talked about internally. It’s best fitting here with the ground to cover. Whether or not this is something we do, I’m not going to say on a permanent basis because we’ve shown we’re going to rotate Jonny Gomes through there and he’s going to get ample time in left field as well. This is the way we’re going at it tonight. This isn’t something that we’re looking to pencil in every day going forward.”

Then there was the matter of where Sizemore was hitting in the lineup.

For just the second time this season, the outfielder found himself at the top of the batting order, with Farrell moving Daniel Nava — who had gotten the majority of time at the top of the order against right-handed starters — down to fifth.

“It’s as much trying to get Daniel going,” Farrell said. “We still value the on-base, which Daniel has a strong track record of that, and yet right now we feel like we’ve got to give him an opportunity to get his feet on the ground offensively. Once he does, we feel like he’ll be in that spot. Just trying to make the most of the current streaks or the way guys are swinging the bat right now.”

Read the rest of this entry »

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Red Sox lineup: Grady Sizemore in leadoff spot, playing left field against Yankees

04.10.14 at 3:34 pm ET
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NEW YORK — With righty Michael Pineda on the mound for the Yankees Thursday night, the Red Sox have Grady Sizemore leading off and playing left field with Jackie Bradley Jr. in center. It marks the first time this season Sizemore has played left.

Here is the Red Sox’ lineup for the opener of their four-game series against the Yanks:

Grady Sizemore LF

Dustin Pedroia 2B

David Ortiz DH

Mike Napoli 1B

Daniel Nava RF

Xander Bogaerts SS

A.J. Pierzynski C

Jackie Bradley Jr. CF

Jonathan Herrera 3B

Clay Buchholz P

For all the matchups, click here.

For a series preview, click here.

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