Michael Pineda's brazenness Wednesday night in putting pine tar on his person for all to see came as a surprise.
Major League Baseball's response was not.
Not taking very long to weigh in with its verdict, MLB on Thursday handed Pineda a 10-game suspension for "possessing a foreign substance" during the 5-1 loss. Pineda, with the pine tar clearly visible on the right side of his neck, was ejected by plate umpire Gerry Davis with two outs in the second inning.
The suspension is not as severe as it sounds. With an off day Monday, the Yankees can manipulate the rotation so Pineda misses just one start, with his return to the mound possible on May 5 against the Angels in Anaheim, Calif. The suspension is with pay and Pineda will not be fined by MLB.
Pineda has the right to appeal the suspension, but given his comments and those of his manager and GM after Wednesday's game, that's unlikely.
"In the first inning I didn't feel the ball," said Pineda, who allowed two runs in the first and applied the substance himself before going out for the second. "I didn't want to hit anybody so I put it on. I want to feel the ball and make good pitches."
Manager Joe Girardi characterized the situation as "an error in judgment" on Pineda's part and general manager Brian Cashman said the organization was "embarrassed" by what took place, but also partially responsible.
"I think Michael's embarrassed, I think we're embarrassed that somehow he took the field like that," Cashman said. "It's obviously a bad situation and clearly forced the opponent's hand to do something I'm sure they didn't want to do but had no choice what to do, and we'll deal with the ramifications of that now."
Pineda was caught with pine tar on his right hand during a start against the Red Sox on April 10 at the Stadium, but Boston manager John Farrell didn't object. He, and many of his players, said it was an accepted practice for pitchers to try and get a better grip of the ball in cold weather. Before Wednesday's game, Farrell said his hope was Pineda would be a bit more "discreet" about his pine tar use, something that obviously did not happen later that night.
"Given the last time we faced him, I felt like it was a necessity to say something," Farrell said after the game. "I fully respect on a cold night you're trying to get a little bit of a grip, but when it's that obvious, something has got to be said."
With David Lennon