PEORIA, Ariz. - There were only a few dozen fans on hand who'd flown down from the Northwest to catch a little sun and a baseball game.
Seattle Mariners rookie Michael Pineda pitched five innings against a Kansas City Royals farm team Monday and then talked about the conditions.
“It was a little cold,” he said. “The same as Seattle.”
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Cold it was – 61 degrees with wind gusting to 40 mph – and wet it became, as sprinkles turned into enough rain to cancel Seattle’s Cactus League afternoon game with Cincinnati.
When they saw the weather and the forecast, manager Eric Wedge and his staff made quick adjustments. Pineda, who was to start against the Reds, instead pitched in a 10 a.m. game against the Royals’ Triple-A team.
“We got him the work, which was important, and we got Aaron Laffey and Josh Lueke innings in another minor league game,” Wedge said. “David Pauley was supposed to get four innings today, so he’ll throw in the covered bullpen ...”
Winging it on the fly, the Mariners got their pitchers all the work they were supposed to get, on the day they were supposed to get it.
Pineda, for instance, pitched five innings and gave up one run, using 72 pitches – 49 strikes – walking one man and striking out three.
“He threw five innings and had one where he was a little bit off, but he made the adjustments he needed to make,” Wedge said. “He continues to pitch well, with good stuff.”
Pineda has been working on that stuff.
“I’ve worked hard on my changeup. I threw about 10 of them today,” Pineda said. “Last year, it was a little flat, and it was 89-90 mph. Now it dives in and to the right against left-handed hitters, and it’s 87-88 mph. It’s got different movement.”
Pineda, 22, remains in the race for the fifth spot in Seattle’s starting rotation, competing with left-hander Luke French and righty Pauley. In his five innings Monday, he got more efficient as he worked.
After using 17 pitches in the first inning, he threw only 12 in the third inning and 13 in the fourth, and was dominant.
“This weather is good for pitching,” he said of the conditions.
LAFFEY, LUEKE EXCEL
In another game, on another minor league diamond, left-hander Laffey pitched three innings and allowed only an unearned run – one that scored when the wind and rain led to a dropped ball in center field.
Right-hander Lueke, who’s locked up a spot in the bullpen, pitched in his second game in as many days and threw one scoreless inning.
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The Mariners host the White Sox in a 1:05 p.m. game. Probable starting pitchers: Edwin Jackson vs. Felix Hernandez.