Make another entry into Major League Baseball’s Hall of Infamy: Former Mariners All-Star pitcher Michael Pineda was ejected Sunday for using pine tar — placed in a highly visible spot on his neck.
His 2012 trade to the Yankees for Jesus Montero will be forever cursed as the swap of banned substances. Montero, caught up in the Biogenesis was suspended for 50 games for using performance-enhancing drugs.
Pineda was called out by Boston manager John Farrell in the second inning at Fenway Park. Umpires came out to check his glove and uniform, then spotted a glop smeared on the right side of his neck in plain sight. Pineda shrugged his shoulders and ambled away to the clubhouse.
He faces a likely suspension, perhaps for 10 games, depending on the commissioner’s office. Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Joel Peralta was suspended for eight games in 2012 after being found with pine tar on his glove, his first offense.
But this was the second time in three games Pineda was seen using pine tar. On April 10 against the Red Sox, TV cameras detected pine tar on his palm, but neither umpires nor the Red Sox checked. It didn’t seem to raise too much of a ruckus; Red Sox star David Ortiz said, “Everybody uses pine tar in the league. It’s not a big deal.”
This time, umpire Gerry Davis went to the mound and examined Pineda’s glove and hands, then spotted the shiny brown smear, wiped some on his fingers, and threw out Pineda, who was hooted into the clubhouse by Red Sox fans.
Before the game, Farrell was asked whether he thought Pineda would use again.
“I would expect if it’s used, it’s more discreet than the last time,” Farrell told reporters. Apparently not. He either overestimated Pineda’s intelligence or underestimated his naivete.
Pineda (2-1, 1.83 ERA) had been pitching well as the Yankees’ No. 5 starter after missing all of 2013 with injuries. Montero, with whom he will be forever linked, showed up 40 pounds overweight to Mariners spring training, and GM Jack Zduriencik did not hide his scorn.
Montero was banned from catching, sent to AAA Tacoma and now is trying first first base. In 13 games with the Rainiers, he’s hitting .265 with three homers, 10 RBIs and an OPS of .866.
Pineda’s previous excuse was that his hand perspires, and he was using dirt, not pine tar, to keep them dry. But now that he has made himself and the Yankees look foolish on national TV, perhaps he can upgrade the excuse to catch up to Montero in the race to see who comes out of this deal with the most condemnations per games played.