In Thursday night’s 4-1 victory over the Boston Red Sox, Yankees pitcher Michael Pineda gave up only one run and four hits in six innings of work. The question everyone’s asking is: did Pineda have something illegal on his hand?
When Daniel Nava came up to bat in the top of the fourth inning in a scoreless game, NESN broadcasters Don Orsillo and Jerry Remy started to focus on the brown substance on Pineda’s pitching hand.
“There’s that substance; that absolutely looks like pine tar,” Orsillo said.
Remy replied, “Yeah, that’s not legal.”
Whatever the substance was on Pineda’s hand, it helped him hold the Red Sox without a hit for five innings. Pineda also struck out seven batters in his six innings of work.
According to MLB rule 8.02, it states that a pitcher may not, “apply a foreign substance of any kind to the ball.” Rule 8.02 (b) says a pitcher may not, “have on his person, or in his possession, any foreign substance. For such infraction of this section (b) the penalty shall be immediate ejection from the game. In addition, the pitcher shall be suspended automatically.”
After the game, Pineda denied having any pine tar or any substance on his hand.
“I don’t use pine tar,” Pineda said. “It’s dirt. I’m sweating on my hand too much in between innings.”
After the game umpire crew chief Brian O’Nora said, “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.”
This isn’t the first time a pitcher has been under fire for having a substance on their throwing hand. In June 2012, Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Joel Peralta was ejected for having pine tar on his glove while playing the Washington Nationals. During the 2006 World Series, Detroit Tigers pitcher Kenny Rogers was accused of having pine tar on his throwing hand in a 3-1 game two victory over the St. Louis Cardinals.
On Friday, Major League Baseball executive Vice President Joe Torre said there were no plans to suspend Pineda.
“The umpires did not observe an application of a foreign substance during the game and the issue was not raised by the Red Sox. Given those circumstances, there are no plans to issue a suspension, but we intend to talk to the Yankees regarding what occurred.”
It is clearly a substance of some kind was on Pineda’s hands. Pitchers in the past have used substances such as pine tar to help them grip the ball better on off-speed pitches. Pineda could have also been using the pine tar on his hand because it was a chilly night in the Bronx. The Red Sox didn’t alert the umpires about the substance, but you can be sure players, managers and announcers will be keeping a close eye on Pineda all season long.