TIME Baseball

Yankees Pitcher Michael Pineda Suspended 10 Games for Illegal Use of Pine Tar

Umpires check Michael Pineda for a foreign substance as Derek Jeter looks on.
Jared Wickerham—Getty Images Home plate umpire Gerry Davis checks out a substance on the neck of Michael Pineda as New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter looks on.

New York Yankees pitcher Michael Pineda has been suspended for 10 games after umpires found the grip-enhancing substance on his neck during last night's game against the Red Sox. Pineda claimed he used the pine tar because he couldn't feel the ball due to chilly temps

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.

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