MLB decides not to pursue Pineda issue

There was evidence of Michael Pineda having a foreign substance on his hand in Thursday’s game, but the Red Sox didn’t make an issue of it.
kathy willens/associated press
There was evidence of Michael Pineda having a foreign substance on his hand in Thursday’s game, but the Red Sox didn’t make an issue of it.

NEW YORK — A day after the strange substance on Michael Pineda’s pitching hand hijacked the attention from the Yankees’ 4-1 win over the Red Sox Thursday night, both teams seemed more concerned with moving forward and treating the mini-controversy like a non-issue.

The substance was initially noticed between the third and fourth innings by NESN’s broadcast team, which raised the possibility that it might have been pine tar. But after the fifth inning, it was gone.

After reviewing the game, Major League Baseball’s executive vice president of baseball operations Joe Torre said that since the Red Sox didn’t make umpires aware of the substance, there would be no consequences for Pineda, but that he intended to discuss what happened with the Yankees.


“The umpires did not observe an application of a foreign substance during the game and the issue was not raised by the Red Sox,” Torre said.

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“Given those circumstances, there are no plans to issue a suspension, but we intend to talk to the Yankees regarding what occurred.’’

Yankees manager Joe Girardi said he hadn’t spoken with Torre but expected Torre to reach out to general manager Brian Cashman.

“I have not heard from Joe Torre,” Girardi said. “And I’m not worried about it.”

Red Sox manager John Farrell said he initially saw an image of Pineda’s stained hand in the fourth inning.


But by the fifth, Farrell said, it was clear from the dugout that whatever had been there was gone.

“At that point, didn’t make an issue of it,” Farrell said.

Girardi, who immediately following the game said he hadn’t seen any photos or video of the substance on Pineda’s hand, said he had see “one or two” photos since.

He also said he still hasn’t discussed the issue with Pineda.

“Will we talk to Michael?” Girardi said. “If we did I wouldn’t tell you anyway.”


His conversations with Pineda, Girardi said, have been strictly baseball.

“I don’t talk to my pitchers: ‘Do you use or do you not use?’ It’s not a recreational drug,’’ Girardi said. So I don’t talk to people about that. I’m aware. I’ve been in teams where I’ve seen it. I’m 99 percent sure that I know of guys on other teams that use it and I just haven’t said anything.”

A year ago, Red Sox pitcher Clay Buchholz was called into question by the Toronto Blue Jays’ broadcast team for having a suspicious substance on his forearm during a start in May.

Farrell said having been in the middle of a similar controversy a year ago played no part in his decision not to alert the umpires about Pineda. But a team source told the Globe that had the stain not been gone after the fifth inning, the Red Sox would have brought it to the umpires’ attention.

Girardi said that while he’s seen pitchers use all kinds of things to get a better grip on the ball, he’s never raised an issue with umpires.

“I have never went out and questioned anyone in my career,” Girardi said.

“I’m aware of things. This is something you could probably go back 50 years ago, 80 years ago, and you could probably go out and question people. But it’s nothing I’ve ever done.”

Although he wasn’t in the batter’s box, injured Sox outfielder Shane Victorino said the substance could be clearly seen from the dugout.

“Bottom line is last night was obvious,” Victorino said.

“If you want an opinion from me, it was obvious that something was going on. I’m sure every pitcher does [it] for purpose for getting a better grip or whatever. But last night, to me, was just flat-out blatant.

“But, again, I didn’t play in the game. All I know is that it was obvious, and I still think Pineda is a good pitcher. I still give him credit for being a great pitcher. Whatever the league does, the league does.”

Asked if it made sense to reassess rules banning pitchers from using foreign substances, Girardi said, “The way we’re addressing rules now, I think we could address that and get some clarity on it. Would probably be helpful.”

For Farrell, it wasn’t so clear-cut.

“One thing I would say, I wouldn’t use a broad brush on this,” Farrell said.

“Just to assume that there’s some speculation on the part of some that might be trying to get an additional grip, I wouldn’t say that every pitcher uses something. And I think that’s where we have to be careful on this.

“The one thing I’ll say is that Pineda’s a talented guy, and to get a little added grip, does that change the outcome of last night’s game, I would say absolutely not.

“More than anything, in conditions like we’re dealing with right now — the coldness — guys are just trying to get a grip and I think it’s somewhat accepted to a certain level.”

Even if the practice is commonplace in baseball, Farrell said Pineda could have been more inconspicuous.

“If a pitcher is going to use some additive to gain a grip, you’d like to think he’d be a little bit more discrete,” Farrell said.

Asked if he ever used a substance to better grip the ball in his eight-year pitching career, Farrell laughed and said, “Never.”

Julian Benbow can be reached at