In Wednesday night’s start against the Red Sox, Yankees pitcher Michael Pineda was ejected in the second inning after he was caught with pine tar on his neck. Major League Baseball handed down a 10-game suspension the next day for the right-hander’s violation of the rules.
Pineda’s shame may only last through the season, however. In a report by the Associated Press, commissioner Bud Selig said that Major League Baseball “ought to look at all this” after the 2014 season concludes. While many have condemned Pineda, others have said he only did blatantly what scores of pitchers have been doing discreetly for decades.
MLB chief operating officer Rob Manfred offered a comment on the issue:
“I think the way that the rule has been enforced, as with lots of rules in baseball, is that when there’s a complaint, we do something about it,” MLB chief operating officer Rob Manfred said. “And that’s what happened here. I don’t think that this particular incident is all that different from other incidents that we’ve had in the past. We will like we do every offseason look at this issue, but remember, pine tar is one of a number of foreign substances, and you have to have a rule that fits for all of them. I don’t think there’s anything all that different about the Pineda.”
To MLB’s credit, they have been more swift than they have in the past in addressing questionable rules. For example, Major League Baseball recently abandoned the strict interpretation of the transfer rule. It shouldn’t be difficult for them to develop new or altered criteria which won’t implicitly reward surreptitious behavior.
The San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser reports that Athletics’ right-hander Sonny Gray will not pitch in the World Baseball Classic after failing to meet the necessary criteria for insurance coverage. He missed 70 days on the disabled list with forearm tightness and a back strain in 2016.
According to Oakland GM David Forst, Major League Baseball tried to persuade the insurance carrier to waive the requirements for Gray to pitch for Team USA, but the request was ultimately refused. Without coverage, Gray will be unable to participate in the competition, though Forst adds that the 27-year-old is still in perfect health as Opening Day approaches and should benefit from a slower spring training schedule without the added commitment on his plate.
Injuries complicated a down year for Gray, who pitched to a career-worst 5.69 ERA, 3.2 BB/9 and 7.2 SO/9 rate through 117 innings in 2016. His 1.4 HR/9 and 17.8% HR/FB rates suggested that he felt the effects of the home run spike more than most, capping a disappointing follow-up to his All-Star campaign during 2015.
While Gray works up to a healthy and productive start to the 2017 season, the Athletics will still see two players on WBC rosters next month: right-handed reliever Santiago Casilla, who is scheduled to pitch for the Dominican Republic, and fellow righty John Axford, for Team Canada.
Rangers’ outfielder Josh Hamilton is scheduled for another knee exam on Monday, according to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Hamilton left camp last week after feeling some pain in his left knee and received a PRP injection to alleviate the symptoms. Wilson notes that both Dr. Walt Lowe and Rangers’ assistant general manager Mike Daly noticed little improvement in the days following the injection.
More drastic measures could be necessary if the 35-year-old intends to return to the field this year. MLB.com’s TR Sullivan adds that the Rangers are considering arthroscopic surgery for Hamilton, which would set him back at least 4-6 weeks and eliminate any real chance of his making the Opening Day roster in April. Until they see the results of the surgery, however, the Rangers won’t rule out Hamilton’s potential return to the big leagues in 2017.
Hamilton is looking at his third major procedure since the end of the 2015 season. He missed all of the Rangers’ 2016 campaign after undergoing reconstructive knee surgery last spring and has not seen a full workload in the majors since his 2013 run with the Angels. Should he make a full recovery this season, he figures to see some time at first base/DH or the corner outfield.