It happens every spring. It happened with A.J. Burnett. It happened with Phil Hughes. Now it’s happening with Michael Pineda. The new young Yankees starter is working on his changeup, and so that one pitch became the biggest topic of discussion after today’s game. Pineda guessed he threw five or six of them — including the strikeout pitch to Shane Victorino — but Larry Rothschild said the number was closer to four.
Regardless, the changeup was an effective third pitch. Pineda can still get on the side of it from time to time, creating more side-to-side movement rather than sinking action, but everyone seems to agree that he’s willing — eager even — to improve a pitch that could make the different between a middle-of-the-rotation starter and a top-of-the-rotation ace.
“I called it just like I would in a season,” Russell Martin said. “Obviously I don’t want him to get beat in certain situations with it yet because we’re still working on it, but there were some situations that dictated that it was the right pitch to call, and he’s game.”
“I think he’ll be fearless with it. I think he will use it provided he’s comfortable with it and it’s an effective pitch for him. That’s the key to the whole thing… I think if he can get a few outs a game on it, that’s what you want. And it’s going to setup the other pitches a lot better. To put a ratio on (how often he should throw it), I’ll just stay away from that, but if he’s comfortable with it you’ll see it certain days. Maybe he’s not throwing the breaking ball for a strike, the changeup’s going to be used more. Maybe it’s a day where he’s got a real good feel for it, he uses it more. And maybe some days the other two pitches are dominant and you’re not going to see it as much.”
“You like that attitude. You want a guy that’s willing to work at something and try to get better as opposed to just saying, what I’ve got is good enough. He got two outs with it and that’s a start with his changeup.”
“Not everybody can have a feel for that pitch, and he seemed to have a decent feel for it. It doesn’t look that difficult for him so I don’t see why it couldn’t be a good pitch for him… I’m not surprised because when I caught him in the pen, he had a good idea of it. And he had been working on it for a couple of weeks with Larry, or a week or so. But when something clicks and something feels god, automatically you see results. And I think the new grip he’s worked on with Larry immediately clicked with him.”
“It’s not my first time I’m practicing my changeup. I had a long time in Seattle when I’m practicing my changeup. But right now, I’m feeling more comfortable with my changeup… I’m a little bit surprised because my changeup was very good, but I’m working hard in the offseason on my changeup.”
Associated Press photo