Michael Pineda wasn’t excited, and he couldn’t hide it.
“Awesome,” he said. “My changeup today, ooph, it was great.”
That’s right. Ooph. Pineda needed some sort of sound for emphasis, and he went with ooph. The changeup is the pitch the Yankees have asked Pineda to improve, and it’s looking more like a legitimate weapon. Both Pineda and Joe Girardi estimated that he threw at least 10 of them today.
“It was really good,” Russell Martin said. “He got a bunch of strikes on it, a bunch of swings and misses, got a punchout and a first-pitch ground ball to second base. A lot of positive things coming out of that pitch today. … When you work on something and you see results quickly, it’s encouraging. I think he’s happy with that.”
There’s no denying that Pineda is happy. His fastball was once again in the low 90s, but he seems perfectly unconcerned about that. His slider is beginning to look as good as advertised, but that’s to be expected.
“That’s my baby,” Pineda said. “I threw a very good slider today, but I’m very excited because my changeup was great. I threw a lot of changeups today and felt comfortable. … Last year, I didn’t throw a lot of changeups, so this year, I’m focused a little more on my changeup and making a good pitch all the time. I’m not worried about my fastball. I don’t know how my fastball is right now, but it feels good.”
That’s the progress the Yankees were hoping to see.
“It’s nice to have success when you’re working at something,” Girardi said. “If you’re making a change or you’re trying to learn a new pitch, it’s nice to have success because I think if you don’t, you’re going to get frustrated, and you’re going to question, do I use it or not? But he’s had some success.”
Pineda said he’s surprised at how much he’s been asked about his fastball velocity. Girardi called it good training for the media experience in New York.
“He was up to 92 today,” Girardi said. “I know that’s going to be talked about a lot. It’s his third start. We still have time to get his fastball where we need it to be. Because of what we went through with Hughes, I think everybody is much more concerned about velocity this year than we were in the past. Power pitchers, over the years, have taken a while to get going. I hope it continues to improve, but that’s just something we have to wait and see and evaluate.”
Said Pineda: “I know I haven’t thrown my fastball (like) last year, but my fastball is coming. More throwing in the game, my fastball is coming.”
Associated Press photo