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Did Yusei Kikuchi use pine tar? Aaron Boone says Yankees 'looked at it' and will handle 'behind the scenes'

Yusei Kikuchi of the Mariners reacts after giving

Yusei Kikuchi of the Mariners reacts after giving up his second hit of the sixth inning against the Yankees at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Did Mariners lefthander Yusei Kikuchi have pine tar on the underside of his cap when he shut down the Yankees on Wednesday night, as it appeared on TV and in photos?

“Yeah, we looked at it,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said on Thursday. “I have some thoughts about it, but I don’t really have anything publicly to say about it. We’ll kind of handle it behind the scenes, how we think is proper, but I don’t really have much to say on it.”

The Yankees didn’t complain to the umpires during Kikuchi’s 7 2/3-inning stint in Seattle’s 10-1 victory. Boone said he only learned of the possible illegal substance in the eighth inning, when it was mentioned during the YES broadcast.

Then Yankees righthander Michael Pineda was ejected from a game in Boston on April 23, 2014, after he was discovered with pine tar slathered on his neck. Pineda was suspended 10 games by baseball for the infraction.

Pine tar helps pitchers grip the baseball. It’s widely used, but pitchers are cautioned to hide it better than Kikuchi apparently did.

Judge update

Aaron Judge was among the Yankees who greeted Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley outside the home team dugout during batting practice.

Judge, who was wearing shorts and a “Game of Thrones” t-shirt, has been out since April 21 with a left oblique strain. Boone said there is no timetable for Judge’s return.

“I don’t really have anything new,” Boone said, “because he’s still kind of working through making sure all of that discomfort or any pain level is out of there. He’s doing things as far as lower body stuff. He’s working through it as far as treatment and doing range of motion things. Not ready to start graduating to any baseball activities yet, but I would say in just talking to him and reading the reports every day, and with the trainers, just feel like he’s making good improvement each and every day.”

Cortes Jr. brought up

The Yankees recalled lefthander Nestor Cortes Jr. from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to replace righthander Jake Barrett, who was sent down after allowing five runs in two innings on Wednesday. Cortes, 24, made four appearances for the Orioles last season after being selected from the Yankees in the Rule V draft. He was returned to the Yankees when Baltimore didn’t keep him on the roster all season.

New York Sports