Michael Pineda is embarrassed, contrite and essentially unemployed. But he’s not going anywhere.
The Twins righthander, suspended for 60 games Saturday for testing positive for a banned substance, said he intends to remain in Minneapolis for the rest of the season in order to help his teammates in whatever limited capacity he can.
“I’m going to support them as much as I can,” Pineda said at a news conference to discuss his positive test for hydrochlorothiazide, a diuretic that can be used to mask the presence of performance-enhancing drugs. “I just wanted to get with them behind [closed] doors and apologize for what I’m putting the team through, and myself through.”
Pineda’s mistake was a costly one: He forfeits roughly $984,000 of his $8 million salary for sitting out the final 23 days (and 21 games) of the regular season, and will forgo 39 games worth of whatever his next contract calls for when he completes his penalty next spring.
In addition, Pineda was only four innings shy of reaching 150 innings for the season — a benchmark that would have come with a $500,000 bonus, plus another half-million for every 10 additional innings. It’s conceivable Pineda cost himself $1.5 million in bonuses by ingesting an unauthorized substance.
“It’s embarrassing. I feel obviously sad, which is why I’m here [Tuesday] in front of [the media] because I let myself down, my family, my teammates, especially where we are in the season,” said the 30-year-old righthander, who went 11-5 with a 4.01 ERA as a Twin. “[It’s] obviously difficult and hard to go through, but here we are.”
But will he be here next year? Pineda, who signed a two-year contract shortly after undergoing elbow reconstruction surgery, becomes a free agent in November. He said he would like to remain a Twin, “but obviously I don’t have control over that. We’ll let time decide that.”
Pineda said his mistake was worrying so much about his weight, and the effect that extra pounds were having on his knees, that he took the word of a friend who gave him an over-the-counter medication.
Now he will remain around Target Field, but fans won’t see him. Under rules of his suspension, he can come to the park and work out, but he is not allowed on the field once gates open to the public. He can use the weight room and clubhouse, but he cannot be in uniform or in the dugout once the game begins.
“We’ll see Mike here early in the day. It’ll give him an opportunity to also keep up with anything he wants to do physically,” said Twins manager Rocco Baldelli, who added he would have “no issues” with the Twins signing Pineda for next year. “He can use the weight room, training room, maybe play catch early on the field if he wants to keep his arm moving. But it was really important to Mike to stay with his guys, his team.”
• Ronald Torreyes, a backup infielder acquired from the Yankees last winter, was added to the roster and called up to the majors to give the Twins more infield depth. The 27-year-old Venezuelan, who has 229 games of major league experience, batted .256 with 11 homers for Class AAA Rochester. The Twins made room by placing Byron Buxton on the 60-day injured list.
• A magnetic resonance imaging test on outfielder Max Kepler’s sore scapula found no structural damage, just irritation, and he should be cleared to play in a day or two, Baldelli said.
• Miguel Sano’s back has improved and the third baseman is available to play, Baldelli said, though he was not in Tuesday’s lineup. Designated hitter Nelson Cruz, however, did return, after sitting out two games because of a sore left wrist. Infielder-outfielder Marwin Gonzalez (oblique) and outfielder Jake Cave (groin) are still a few days away from being able to resume baseball workouts.
• The Twins showed welcome-back videos on the scoreboard before Tuesday’s game for former Twins All-Stars Kurt Suzuki and Brian Dozier. The latter hit 80 home runs in Target Field over seven seasons, most in the ballpark’s 10-year history.