Michael Pineda has accepted a 10-game suspension. He said he understands that he broke the rules, and this is the punishment. He’ll basically have to miss one start. The part that’s still a little hard to figure out is what exactly the Yankees told Pineda after he was basically caught doing the same thing two weeks ago. Pineda said it was a last second decision between the first and second innings that he decided it was worth the risk of using pine tar.
At one point he said he understood that he might be suspended for using it, but another time he said that he wasn’t sure what would happen if he were caught.
“I tried to put it in my neck, just a little bit,” he said. “I make a mistake again and put in too much and everybody (could) see it. It’s my mistake, you know? I feel so sad and I feel bad for that.”
Pineda said that his conversations with the Yankees coaching staff after the previous incident were in English, which led to natural questions for Joe Girardi about why the Yankees didn’t use a translator to make sure Pineda understood what he could and could not do. Girardi, though, refused to go into details. He hinted that the Yankees did use a translator, but he wouldn’t explain exactly what or how Pineda was told.
“I know there’s the assumption that Michael always understands the questions (from the media) fully and I’m going to stick to (what I’ve always said),” Girardi said. “The conversations and who’s in the room when we have the conversations, you’re probably not going to be privy to. But my coaching staff, the front office, myself, we’re very thorough and we make sure that when we want to get a message across, there’s nothing lost in translation.”
Here’s what Pineda said about those conversations after the start two weeks ago, and about why he took the chance again last night.
“The first time (after the April 10 game), they talked to me and (explained) what’s going to happen,” Pineda said. “I said OK, I understand. Last night I make a mistake because I no really feel the ball in the first inning. I was scared for hitting somebody on the other team, you know? I used it because I want to make a good pitch in the game and I want to pitch the game. It’s pine tar, but the pine tar did not help me throw more hard. It helped me for feeling more grip on the mound.”
Obviously the vast majority of today’s pregame questions were about Pineda and the fallout from the pine tar incident. The 10-game suspension starts tonight, and Girardi said he’s not worried that Pineda has always used pine tar and will now have to learn to pitch without it.
“No, there isn’t a thought like that for me,” Girardi said. “Obviously he hasn’t probably pitched in a ton of cold-weather games. Seattle is cold, but it’s nothing like what we had here last night. He probably hasn’t experienced a lot of it, so we’ll continue to educate him how to do things and just see what happens.”
• With Pineda suspended, the Yankees have to carry a 24-man roster for the next 10 games. They don’t get to replace Pineda, he just fills an unusable spot on the roster. Girardi said the Yankees will obviously keep Pineda throwing so that he stays prepared and stretched out.
• Girardi would not say definitively, but it certainly sounds like David Phelps will start in Michael Pineda’s place next time through the rotation. “I haven’t talked to the specific guys so I don’t want to give you anything,” Girardi said. “But that would be a good way to lean.” Girardi said the Yankees will definitely use Monday’s off day so that they only have to fill the rotation spot once. That means everyone will pitch on normal five days rest next week instead of getting an extra day. Girardi said Phelps can probably go 75 pitches when his turns comes around.
• The Yankees added two extra pitchers and lost their backup shortstop today. “We felt that needed a couple of pitchers,” Girardi said. “Phelpsy is not available. Then we don’t really have a true guy who can give you any distance down there. It’s not the spot that you want to be in, but we felt that Solarte, he can play shortstop a day or two if we need him to and he gives you a little bit more options being a switch hitter.”
• Bruce Billings has been starting in Triple-A, so he’s plenty stretched out. Shane Greene was scheduled to start today and said he probably would have gone three or four innings. He hasn’t gotten stretched out yet this season because of a rather weird opening month when he’s gone from extended spring training to the big leagues to Triple-A and back to the big leagues. Last time he pitched, Greene went an inning and two-thirds out of the Triple-A bullpen.
• Brendan Ryan got five at-bats today. Girardi said he’s still probably a week away from joining the team, so the Yankees will likely go with Yangervis Solarte as their backup shortstop for a few games until Ryan is ready to be activated. Girardi said he would be willing to start Solarte if he wanted to give Derek Jeter a day off.
• On Ivan Nova’s decision to have Tommy John surgery: “I think it’s the right decision,” Girardi said. “I haven’t really seen anyone rehab a partially torn ligament and have success. It seems what it does is just delay the inevitable of what’s going to happen. Then instead of maybe missing a year and a little bit of time, you miss a couple of years.”
• Girardi said he will not be suspended by Major League Baseball for twisting an ESPN camera so that it couldn’t film the Yankees tunnel last night. “I’m fine with MLB; MLB’s fine with me,” Girardi said. “I have an issue, though, with going down into the tunnel. I think that’s flat wrong. It’s meant for the dugout. I know everyone wants access but there has to be some areas that we can go where we can actually communicate with players that there’s not a microphone hearing us or a camera watching lips. I mean, we have to have some privacy.”
• The Red Sox have activated Shane Victorino from the disabled list. He’s playing right field and batting second tonight.
• As he said last night, Girardi said he feels no need to treat the Red Sox any differently after the Pineda ejection. “No, no,” Girardi said. “I think John Farrell was put in a tough spot. He was put in a tough spot a couple of weeks ago. So I have no ill will towards John. If they feel it’s that obvious, I mean, they have to do something.”
Associated Press photos