What are the ramifications of calling out Michael Pineda for his second blatant pine tar issue?
Probably not too significant in baseball’s big picture.
It may be confined to the Red Sox-Yankees series, and perhaps the Yankees will scrutinize Boston’s pitchers from here on out.
“We’re safe in that aspect,” Red Sox pitching coach Juan Nieves said. “We don’t have to worry about that. We certainly use a lot of rosin. But I don’t expect that to happen.”
Except for that Clay Buchholz used a lot of rosin and sunscreen in Toronto last year.
Pineda was ejected in the second inning when plate umpire Gerry Davis found the substance on the right side of the pitcher’s neck after Sox manager John Farrell asked him to check.
In the minutes after Boston’s 5-1 win Wednesday night, however, the Yankees gave a mea culpa on what had transpired and didn’t seem to have revenge on their minds. At least not yet.
“It’s not anything that’s on our minds,” Yankees general manager Brian Cashman.
“Listen, I would want my manager to do what John Farrell did. I would want that on behalf of our fan base and our team to do the same thing they did. This is a terrible situation that we witnessed that we’re all a part of and that we have ownership of. Obviously there is clearly a breakdown or a failure that he walked out of that dugout with something like that. It’s just not a good situation.”
The quick response from some baseball people who saw the incident was that there aren’t many pitchers who have been as blatant about showing the substance like Pineda was.
You’d have to go back to the Joel Peralta pine tar incident with Tampa Bay in 2012. And we remember Kenny Rogers pitching for Detroit in Game 2 of the 2006 World Series against St. Louis.
“That was one of the hardest things I ever had to do, but I don’t think St. Louis fans would ever have forgave me if I didn’t point it out,” said former Cardinals manager Tony La Russa.
Two other American League officials seemed to have the same take on the event. They both said pine tar use will not be curtailed because of this incident because, as Pineda said, he needed to get a better grip on the ball, especially in colder weather.
Neither official could believe any pitcher would be brazen enough to do what Pineda did twice in a row.
“I think there’s an accepted level of some additive used to gain a grip,’’ Farrell said. “Just felt like in the two starts we’ve had against Pineda, that’s been a little bit above that.”
Red Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski was of the opinion that it’s done, and it’s going to be done, just don’t do it so blatantly.
“Guys do it and I don’t have a problem with it,” Pierzynski said. “I know as a hitter I want to get in there knowing the guy has a grip. Put it on your hat, put it on your pants, put it on your belt, put it on your glove, whatever you have to do. But at some point you can’t do it that blatantly.”
That is a common refrain among players. We all do it, but don’t be so obvious.
So what Pineda did, first showing it on his palm and then on his neck, is wrong, but if you hide it under your sleeve, cap, or glove it’s OK?
This is a baseball thing.
Just don’t show me up. Just don’t be so brazen, or we’ll get you.
“He’s responsible for his actions and obviously we failed as an organization for somehow him being in that position,” Cashman said. “We’re scratching our head trying to figure out how that took place.”
It was almost as if Cashman was sure that Pineda would be fined and suspended by Major League Baseball. He said he had no idea what the parameters of any suspension would be. Peralta got eight games when umpires found pine tar in his glove.
Pineda, who seemed lost in his postgame interview, not understanding some of the questions, later clarified comments he had not been talked to by the Yankees about the pine tar.
According to Yankees spokesman Jason Zillo, Pineda, who doesn’t speak English very well, thought the questioning was about whether he was warned about not using the pine tar right before the game.
MLB executive vice president of baseball operations Joe Torre spoke to Cashman after Pineda showed pine tar on his palm in his last start vs. the Red Sox.
This time Pineda placed the pine tar on his neck after a first inning in which he gave up two runs.
With Ivan Nova already injured and out of the rotation, Pineda could be looking at a two-start suspension, especially after there had been plenty of conversation in the Yankees organization about pine tar.
“I think we’re all embarrassed,” Cashman said. “We as a group are embarrassed this has taken place. I think Michael is embarrassed. We’re embarrassed that somehow he took the field with that in the position like that.
“It was a bad situation and it clearly forced the opponents’ hand into doing something they probably didn’t want to do, but they had no choice but to do it.
“We’ll deal with the ramifications of that now.”
And the Red Sox will have to deal with possible ramifications as well.
Will they be under a magnifying glass for squealing?
“We’re aware of what the thought across the field might be, that there may be more of a willingness to have our guys checked,” Farrell said.
Remember the Buchholz incident? It was Blue Jays broadcasters, not the team, that made it an issue. The Jays looked the other way, and Buchholz’s actions were every bit as blatant as Pineda’s.
Cashman would not go into whether there should be a rule change to allow substances for pitchers to grip the ball. In this day and age, with pitchers throwing 95-100 miles per hour, hitters are in fear of being hit with an errant pitch.
“That’s a conversation for another day,” Cashman said. “We play by the rules in play right now.”
Cashman was asked whether Pineda, who has missed two seasons after major shoulder surgery and who has been very good this season, needs pine tar to pitch effectively.
“He can pitch without pine tar. I have no doubt about that,” Cashman said.Nick Cafardo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @nickcafardo.