PEORIA, Ariz. - The first revelation of the night about rookie Michael Pineda was an admission by the Seattle Mariners that they had underestimated the size of their large young pitcher.
Listed in the team media guide as 6-foot-5, 245 pounds, Pineda had said all spring that he is bigger than that.
Turns out, he is.
As the right-hander started against the Milwaukee Brewers, the Mariners released new measurements. Pineda is officially 6-7, 260 pounds.
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The second revelation was a bit more troubling – major league hitters timed Pineda’s fastball, hit his slider and didn’t seem fooled by his changeup.
Oh, the 22-year-old wasn’t pounded, although more than half of the seven hits he allowed in four innings were for extra bases. Of the three runs he allowed, two were earned.
Pineda was in trouble most every inning and pitched out of it, although giving up leadoff extra base hits – or loading the bases with no one out – isn’t the style he’s seeking to establish.
“My fastball was up a little tonight and I’ve got to get it down,” Pineda said. “My slider was pretty good. My first two changeups were not very good, my last three were very good.”
“I’m working, working really hard,” Pineda said. “I worked a lot this offseason on the changeup, but I need to get better.”
He was also a bit surprised by the way big-league hitters handled him.
“Rickie Weeks, the last time I faced him, I threw a good slider for strike one, a good slider for strike two,” Pineda said. “I threw him a fastball away, and he singled. He’s a pretty good hitter.”
Pineda remains a work in progress, well aware that he remains a candidate for the fifth spot in the Seattle opening-day rotation.
“I think about it,” he acknowledged. “I don’t know what will happen, but I think about it.”
What did manager Eric Wedge think after watching Pineda’s fourth appearance of the spring?
“Michael left a lot of fastballs up early, and they squared ’em up,” Wedge said. “We still saw a lot of good things. The way hitters swing tells you a lot, and his secondary stuff was probably the best it’s been this spring.”
ROBERTSON HAS SURGERY ON ELBOW
Veteran left-hander Nate Robertson had surgery that removed three loose bodies from his left elbow – one in front and two in back.
Robertson will return to Peoria today and begin his rehabilitation. He likely won’t pitch again for four weeks, barring a setback.
Outfielder Milton Bradley was ejected after barking on a called third strike. With innings harder to find in Cactus League games, the Mariners are sending pitchers Luke French and David Pauley to minor league camp today to pitch in games there. On Saturday, Doug Fister will make his scheduled start in a minor league game – giving Wedge the chance to give relievers more work this week.
The Mariners play another night game, a 6:05 p.m. start in Surprise against the Kansas City Royals that will be broadcast on 710-AM. Probable starting pitchers: Seattle’s Felix Hernandez vs. Jeff Francis.