Updated 3:20 p.m. ET Thursday
New York Yankees starting pitcher Michael Pineda was suspended ten games, beginning Thursday night, after umpires discovered pine tar on the pitcher’s neck in the second inning of Wednesday night’s game against the Boston Red Sox.
Pineda was ejected from Wednesday’s game at Fenway Park, which the Yankees ultimately lost 5-1, and a suspension from Major League Baseball was largely expected.
In an usual turn of events, Pineda actually confessed to the crime — not that his guilt wasn’t apparent — and explained that he wasn’t trying to cheat, but rather that he was trying to get a better grip on the ball so as not to unintentionally hit any batters: “It was a really cold night and in the first inning I (couldn’t) feel the ball,” he said. “I don’t want to like hit anybody so I decided to use it.”
The umpires’ discovery came after Red Sox manager John Farrell asked that they checked the 25-year-old pitcher for an illegal substance. The ejection comes just two weeks after rumors swirled that Pineda had placed a foreign substance on his pitching hand during an April 10 game also against Boston.
There’s much debate in the baseball world about whether pine tar and other grip-enhancing substances should be banned, and it’s no secret that their use is widespread in the sport — Pineda’s mistake was making the infraction so obvious.
Pineda faces a likely suspension, another blow to a weakened Yankees pitching staff that will likely lose Ivan Nova to elbow surgery.