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Former Cleveland Indians pitcher Roy Smith says about two-thirds of pitchers use pine tar, in defense to Rays pitcher Joel Peralta's ejection over pine tar

5:05 PM, Jun 20, 2012   |    comments
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Tampa Bay Rays reliever Joel Peralta has his glove checked and removed by home plate umpire Tim Tschida in the eighth inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park. Peralta did not remain in the game and never threw a pitch.



Clearwater, Florida -- Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Joel Peralta faces a possible 10-game suspension by Major League Baseball after umpires found pine tar in his glove during Tuesday night's game.

But if you're not a hardcore baseball fan, you may not know how pine tar is typically used by players, or even what it is.

Some former players also coming to Peralta's defense, saying using the substance is widespread.

Pine tar is on the bat of just about every major league player.

It's perfectly legal to have it there.

"The reason players are putting pine tar on their bats is to make the bat stickier.  To get a better grip on the bat," said St. Petersburg youth and high school baseball coach Ron Rhoads, who owns All-Star Baseball School.

What's not allowed, though, is pitchers using it on their hands to get a better handle on the ball.

But former Cleveland Indians pitcher Roy Smith says it happens all the time.

"I would say about 75% of professional pitchers use it," Smith guessed.

While Peralta had it in his glove, Smith says guys hide pine tar all over the place.

"You can have it on the glove arm, you can have it on your pant leg, you can have it on top of your hat, you can have it underneath the hat," he explains.

Smith, who played parts of two major league seasons, says on a hot day, when the sweat builds up, it becomes even more popular.

"It doesn't make the ball do anything differently than it would normally do. It's just going to make it maybe a little bit tighter, a little better spin, things like that," he describes.

Pine tar can be found at most local sporting goods stores.

But Rhoads says no matter how many pros are using it, he'll keep telling his kids not to.

"We never encourage cheating," he says, "we want to go out there and keep the game pure."

Pine tar is dark brown in color, making it very difficult to see on a baseball glove, which might be one reason it's so rare for a players like Peralta to get called out on it.

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