Pineda banned 10 games for pine tar, won’t appeal

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BOSTON (AP) - Michael Pineda says he was just trying to get a better grip on the ball.

Now, he won’t need one for a while.

A day after being caught using pine tar on the mound, the New York Yankees pitcher was suspended for 10 games by the commissioner’s office on Thursday.

Pineda said he won’t appeal, costing him two starts before he can return May 5 at the Los Angeles Angels.

“I accept it,” Pineda said before Thursday night’s game at Fenway Park. “I know I made a mistake.”

Pineda was ejected in the second inning of New York’s 5-1 loss to Boston after umpires found the pine tar on the right side of the right-hander’s neck.

After the game, Pineda admitted that he used the pine tar to help him grip the ball on a cool, windy night.

“I feel so bad,” he said Thursday.

Pineda said he had never used pine tar before this season. He spent his first season in the majors with the Seattle Mariners in 2011, then missed the last two with the Yankees following right shoulder surgery.

“I think he understood” the seriousness of his action, said Yankees manager Joe Girardi, who expected a suspension of about 10 games, “but I think he got caught up in the moment of competing and it got the best of him.”

Girardi indicated David Phelps would take Pineda’s turn in the rotation. Phelps came into the game with two outs in the second after Pineda was ejected.

The ejection set off a debate in the baseball world about pitchers who try pine tar, and whether it should be allowed in certain circumstances. Many former aces said they had done it, albeit in a more discreet manner.

“I’ve seen a lot of things in my career, so I’m not blind to it” being viewed as part of baseball, said Girardi, a former catcher in his seventh year as Yankees manager.

Rule 8.02(b) prohibits pitchers from altering the ball to gain an unfair advantage, and forbids them from having a foreign substance on them or in their possession on the mound.

“I wouldn’t be against coming up with an idea” to modify the rule so pitchers could get a better grip on the ball in cold weather, Girardi said. “It would be a great time for someone to start looking at” finding one substance pitchers would be allowed to use.

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