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Red Sox reaction to Michael Pineda: ‘Something has to be said’

04.24.14 at 12:06 am ET
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John Farrell had no choice Wednesday night at Fenway Park. There was no room for looking the other way from the greasy skin of Michael Pineda this time.

After watching the Yankees right-hander Michael Pineda blatantly used pine tar on his hand in a 4-1 win on April 10 at Yankee Stadium, the Red Sox manager said he had no choice but to call for home plate umpire Gerry Davis to inspect the right side of Pineda’s neck in the second inning Wednesday at Fenway Park.

What Davis found was an obvious streak of pine tar used by the pitcher to gain an advantage on the grip of the baseball. The blatant use of pine tar represented an obvious violation of rule 8.02 (4) of applying a foreign substance to the ball and Pineda was immediately ejected. After being warned by MLB after his previous violation in New York, Pineda faces an almost certain suspension of at least eight games from Major League Baseball for the latest infraction.

John Farrell explained his case in detail after Boston’s 5-1 win Wednesday night:

“In the second inning it looked from the dugout that there was a substance on his neck,” Farrell said. “You could see it, 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.”

Farrell continued: “I can say our awareness was heightened, given what we’ve seen in the past, and it was confirmed today.”

Farrell was asked if he fears the Yankees retaliating and asking umpires to check Red Sox pitchers on the mound. Clay Buchholz was accused by Toronto broadcasters early in the 2013 season of using suntan lotion for the same purpose.

“We’ll see what tomorrow brings,” Farrell said. “I don’t know that. As obvious as this was, I felt like he needed to be checked at the time.”

Farrell said he didn’t notice it initially in the game, a fact Pineda later confirmed afterward when he acknowledged that he put the substance on his neck after the first inning when he gave up two runs and was having trouble getting a grip on the ball in the cold conditions.

“Didn’t see it in the first inning and we have to have the pitcher checked,” Farrell said. “I just asked him to check him. We had the spot where it was located. I said ‘There’s seems to be some pine tar on his neck and that’s where I’d like for you to take a look.’

“Have never been involved in it and I’m well aware of what the thought across the field might be that there may be more of a willingness to have our guys checked. But again, I think there’s an accepted level of some additive used to gain a grip. I just felt like that in the two starts we’ve had against Pineda, that’s been a little bit above that.”

“In conditions like tonight and the last time we faced him in New York where it was cold, I think that hitters will say that we want a pitcher to have a grip, where a pitch doesn’t get away from a guy. But when it’s that obvious, I think there’s better ways to conceal it, and that hasn’t been the case.”

As for the possibility that MLB has told teams that there is an “excessive” amount of substance guideline used to determine a violation of the rules, Farrell said he is unaware of such a policy.

“No, not that I’m aware of,” Farrell said. “Any substance is illegal but I think there’s a certain acceptance that it’s used and discreetly used. Personally, I don’t think this is the case.”

Here is what home plate umpire Gerry Davis told a pool reporter about the incident after the game: “John Farrell mentioned that he felt [Pineda] had a foreign substance on his person, and we went out to check him and he did.”

Do you have to be asked to go out to the mound? “No, not really. We could check that on our own, but John brought it to our attention.”

What did it feel like? Was it a sticky substance? “It was pine tar.”

Where did you find it? “On his neck.”

Did Pineda provide an explanation? “He did not.”

Here is a sample of what other Red Sox players said:

John Lackey: “I don’t know. I guess considering his last start against us, probably a little blatant. The Yankees lineup gives plenty to think about. They’re really good. I’m not really concerned with what he’s doing.”

A.J. Pierzynski: “Me and some of the other guys were talking, I’ve never seen anything like that, a guy ejected for using a substance. It’s one of those things, look we all know everyone does it. There’s no doubt. I’m all for it but you just can’t do it that blatantly. That’s it. Everyone has something. Catchers have pine tar on the shin guards all the time. It’s not a big deal. As long as it’s not blatant and you’re not putting it out there for the whole world to see. It’s tough.

“I know John didn’t want to go out there. It was tough for him and puts him in a bad spot but at some point the rules are the rules and you have to do what you can.

“I don’t have a problem with guys that do it. I know as a hitter I want to get in there and know the guy has [a grip], especially a night like tonight when it was cold and windy. Put it on your hat, you pants, your belt, your glove, whatever you have to do. But at some point, you just can’t do it that blatantly. I think that’s what the biggest issue was. No one has an issue with him doing it. I think it’s more the fact that he did it so blatantly.

Read More: Boston Red Sox, John Farrell, Michael Pineda, New York Yankees
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