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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Ausmus on Pineda pine tar controversy: 'I think it's overblown'

DETROIT — When Yankees pitcher Michael Pineda got thrown out of Wedneday’s game for blatantly using pine tar for a second straight start vs. the Boston Red Sox, its pervasive use became the talk of the industry.

One talking head on ESPN’s “Baseball Tonight” even suggested that most Major League Baseball catchers put pine tar on their catching gear, in order to rub it on the ball before throwing it back to the pitcher.

“I can say I have never put pine tar on any part of my catching gear or glove, in any part of my career. Not once. The only time I put pine tar anywhere was on my bat,” said Tigers manager Brad Ausmus, who caught in 1,971 big-league games in his 18-year career.

“I’m not saying it doesn’t happen. But I personally have never put pine tar on my catching gear or glove. And no pitcher has ever asked me to do that.”

Obviously, the primary use for pine tar in baseball is to make bats easier to grip. There are other uses, too.

“I do think pitchers using pine tar isn’t as big a deal as it’s being made out to be. It’s more about getting a grip. It’s not really about altering the movement of the ball, it’s about getting a grip on the ball. Just like putting pine tar on the bat to grip the bat, using pine tar for a pitcher would be to get a grip on the ball,” Ausmus said.

“I think this is becoming overblown, really.”

As a hitter, you would want a pitcher to maybe use a foreign substance to get a better grip, especially on a cold night, when it’s harder to get a feel for the baseball.

“Especially if he’s a hard thrower. It’s not like it’s a spitball, where it’s dancing all over the place. Or sandpaper that scuffs it, and makes it move abnormally,” Ausmus said.

“This just allows pitchers to get a grip on the ball. I think it’s overblown.”

The part that caught Pineda was his being so obvious. The first time, he had it visibly on his hand. Wednesday night, he had it on his neck.

“I guess if it was blatant, you would have to address it, because it’s part of the rules, but again I don’t think it’s impacting the game. It’s considered a foreign substance, but it’s not Vaseline,” Ausmus said, admitting he’d never seen it applied to the neck like that. “He did seem to have quite a bit of it. I’m not going to get all worked up about that.”


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