Results tagged ‘ Michael Pineda ’

Pineda looks strong in Minor League game

Michael Pineda got in five innings in a Minor League game this morning against the Royals AAA team as the Mariners wanted to avoid the possibility of a rainout in his scheduled afternoon Cactus League start against the Reds.

He looked strong against a Royals squad featuring several top prospects, giving up one run on three hits with four strikeouts and one walk.

Pineda threw 72 pitches and said he’s ready to roll, figuring he could have thrown 100-110 pitches if necessary.

As for the blustery, chilly day in which outfield fly balls were an adventure and everyone used to the 80-90 degree Arizona warmth was suddenly left searching for jackets and sweaters?

“The weather today is not very good,” Pineda said. “It’s a little cold, you know? But I think it’s the same in Seattle, so it’s good to pitch.”

Left-hander Aaron Laffey, competing for a spot in the bullpen, threw three innings on an adjacent field against the Royals AA team and gave up one hit and an unearned run with no walks and four strikeouts.

Josh Lueke, looking more and more like a critical late-inning contender in the ‘pen, threw a scoreless inning in the AA game. Pitching for the second straight day, he gave up two singles and had one strikeout.

I’m heading to Goodyear to see if they get in this afternoon’s game against the Reds, but will have more on Pineda’s outing later on Mariners.com.

Dynamic duo make their lone spring showing

It was fun seeing Felix Hernandez and Michael Pineda pitch back-to-back today in Phoenix as the present and the future were on display in the Mariners’ 6-3 win over the A’s at Municipal Stadium.

But don’t plan on that double dip happening again as Eric Wedge says Pineda will be brought back Friday on three day’s rest this week in order to get the two hard-throwing right handers pitching on different days the rest of spring.

Felix will follow on Saturday, though I suspect the Mariners will put him in a “B” game that day rather than face the A’s again … given they don’t want their AL West rivals getting too comfortable against him prior to an Opening Day rematch on April 1.

But Pineda needs to get on an every-fifth-day schedule as well, so he was limited to two innings today so he can be brought back against the Indians Friday and then begin his own five-day format.

Hernandez gave up five hits, including some pretty well-stroked balls, in 2 2/3 innings and threw enough pitches (53) that Wedge took him out before his planned three frames. But given it was his first Cactus League game, none of that should be unexpected.

Pineda wasn’t perfect this time either, giving up his first hit and two walks of the spring. So he is human. But he’s a very large human and his four scoreless innings thus far would indicate he’s fitting in fairly well.

The only pitching downside Monday was Rule 5 guy Jose Flores giving up a two-run homer in the ninth inning to Andy LaRoche on an absolute blast to deep center. But the Mariners did get two strong innings from Josh Lueke, who is a guy that seems to be figuring more and more in the bullpen mix.

Offensively the Mariners totaled just six hits and took advantage of some A’s wildness — six walks — to score their six runs. Chris Gimenez, filling in for an ill Adam Moore behind the plate, went 2-for-2 with two RBIs.

Jack Wilson made his first start at second base and turned an early ground ball into an adventure when he casually underhanded a throw wide of first base. But Mike Carp made the tag to save that play.

Young prospect Johermyn Chavez, replacing Ichiro in right field for the final five innings, threw out a runner at second base.

That’s all for today. The Mariners have two games Tuesday, their Cactus League contest against the Giants in Peoria and a “B” contest against the Dodgers that will give some pitchers — including Luke French — a chance to get some extra action.

Today’s lineups on a pitching happy day in Peoria

Good morning from Peoria, where today figures to be an interesting peek into the pitching prowess of the Mariners with both Felix Hernandez and Michael Pineda slated to go this afternoon against Oakland.

Hernandez will start and go three innings in the 12:05 p.m. PT game at Phoenix Municipal Stadium. Pineda presumably will toss at least two innings.

Don’t expect the two to pitch side-by-side all spring, however. Even if Pineda stays on the same fifth-day schedule, he’ll throw against the same A’s squad on Saturday at Peoria Stadium, while the Mariners would like to line up a “B” squad game that day so Hernandez isn’t throwing too often against the team Seattle will open the regular season against on April 1.

Speaking of “B” games, the Mariners set one up for tomorrow against the Dodgers at 10 a.m. to allow some extra innings for the pitching staff. Luke French will start that game, followed by Yoervis Medina, Chris Seddon, Chris Smith, Justin Miller and Yusmeiro Petit.

As for today, we should learn at some point the medical update on catcher Miguel Olivo. Infielder Jack Wilson is back following his brief illness and will get his first start today at second base.

Here’s the full lineup for today’s game against the A’s:

Ichiro Suzuki RF
Chone Figgins 3B
Franklin Gutierrez CF
Mike Carp 1B
Jack Wilson 2B
Brendan Ryan SS
Michael Saunders LF
Adam Moore C
Matt Mangini DH
Felix Hernandez P

Felix, Pineda will both pitch Monday against A’s

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If you want to circle a Cactus League game on your schedule, mark down this Monday when the Mariners play the Oakland A’s.

Felix Hernandez will make his first Cactus League start that day and is slated to pitch three innings. He’ll be followed by Michael Pineda, the club’s star rookie prospect.

Hernandez threw 33 pitches in a simulated game on Thursday and pronounced himself ready to go.

The American League Cy Young Award winner is being lined up to start Opening Day on April 1 against those same A’s. Pitching Monday puts him on schedule to throw every fifth day until Opening Day.

Pitching coach Carl Willis said Hernandez will pitch some “B” games during the upcoming stretch rather than face American League West opponents, but he’s OK with him facing the A’s on Monday since it’s so early in spring.

That game will be at Oakland’s Phoenix Municipal Stadium at 12:05 p.m. PT.

On an every fifth-day schedule, Hernandez also would be scheduled to face Oakland again on Saturday, March 12. That one likely well get replaced with a “B” game so he’s not facing the A’s too often prior to the regular season.

He’d then face Kansas City on Thursday, March 17; the White Sox on Tuesday, March 22, and the Rangers on Sunday, March 27.

The Rangers game also likely will be replaced by a “B” squad outing.

Meanwhile, here is the Mariners lineup for today’s 12:05 p.m. PT game against the Reds:

Ichiro Suzuki RF
Chone Figgins 3B
Milton Bradley LF
Jack Cust DH
Justin Smoak 1B
Gabe Gross CF
Josh Wilson SS
Dustin Ackley 2B
Adam Moore C
Doug Fister P

Hitters mostly watching as live batting practice begins

PinedaBP.JPGRookie Michael Pineda throws batting practice on Monday as hitters faced the pitchers live for the first time. (Photo by Greg Johns).

The Mariners went into live batting practice for the first time today, though most of the hitters used the first day to just take pitches and get used to tracking the ball rather than hacking away in their first at-bats.

Erik Bedard, the first man on the mound, threw 33 pitches and only one of the five batters he faced — Matt Tuiasosopo — even took a full swing. Tuiasosopo fouled off Bedard’s third offering and then grounded a ball up the middle on his fifth and final pitch.

Otherwise, Ichiro, Gabe Gross, Jody Gerut and Alex Liddi all just stood and watched Bedard’s pitches fly by.

That’s not unusual on a first day when batters are just looking to get their timing down.

On the field I was watching, Bedard, Garrett Olson, Manny Delcarmen , Michael Pineda and Josh Lueke all threw about 35-40 pitches. Two hitters went deep … Jack Wilson taking Olson over the left-field wall and big Carlos Peguero (all 6-5, 245 pounds of him) absolutely crushed a Delcarmen pitch into the parking lot beyond the right-field fence.

Pineda was imposing, as expected, throwing 38 pitches. Milton Bradley was the first batter to face him and broke his bat on the second pitch, then was replaced in the order until his turn came back around. On his second look, he took four pitches and then grounded the ball to second.

Don’t bother reading too much into any of this other than that Spring Training really is getting rolling now. And there are some obvious things. Like Pineda really is physically imposing ont the mound at 6-5, 240 pounds.

“You can’t see much behind him,” Josh Wilson said of the view from the box when facing the 22-year-old for the first time. “He’s pretty big. Heck, if you’re going to build a prototypical right-handed pitcher, I think he fits the mold. He’s big, strong, throws over the top with a hard, heavy fastball and backs it up with good offspeed stuff, too. He has all the makings.”

Manager Eric Wedge spent a lot of time talking to his troops. He clearly is going to be a hands-on manager, pointing things out before and after many drills. Wedge said that will be particularly true early in his first camp as he works to make sure players understand what the coaches are looking for in different drills.

It’s worth noting that Brendan Ryan and Jack Wilson both took grounders at shortstop during the primary infield drills, with Justin Smoak at first, Adam Kennedy at second and Chone Figgins at third. Matt Tuiasosopo worked briefly behind Figgins at third before moving to back up Smoak.

Ryan later moved over to second base during some double-play drills, with Wilson remaining at shortstop.

Training Camp Day 3: More good stuff on the mound

Bedard.JPGErik Bedard throws during his 10-minute bullpen session Wednesday in Peoria, Ariz. (Photo by Greg Johns)

Other than some clouds rolling in for the first time since camp opened, all was perfect in Peoria from a Mariners perspective Wednesday. Heck, even the clouds didn’t mask another day in the upper 70s, though it’s supposed to cool a bit tomorrow.

On the field, things continued progressing nicely on Day 3 as both Erik Bedard and Michael Pineda again looked sharp in their second bullpen sessions of the week.

Bedard seems to be throwing extremely well and, yes, I know everyone has heard this all before. And it won’t mean a thing unless he can stay healthy and do it during the regular season.

But these are the necessary first steps in that direction and manager Eric Wedge was among those who continue to be impressed.

Pineda is the other looming figure in the bullpen, for obvious reasons. The young man is huge, he throws hard and he appears to have very good command. The Mariners will keep their fingers crossed, but both Wedge and pitching coach Carl Willis acknowledged that it’s hard to miss Pineda at this point.

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THE TROOPS KEEP ARRIVING

Yusmeiro Petit arrived after clearing up his visa issues in Venezuela, so all 33 pitchers are now in camp. Petit was dealing with his physical today and didn’t throw, but presumably he’ll join in the fun Thursday.

Wedge said the schedule calls for three more days of bullpen sessions, then the pitchers will take a break for a day or two before beginning live batting practice once the full squad is in.

Position players continued trickling in, with Chone Figgins the newest arrival on Wednesday. Everyone is due for physicals on Friday and the first full workout will be Saturday.

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KNOCK ON WOOD

Wedge said everyone has remained healthy through three days, which is always welcome news. Of course, that doesn’t include closer David Aardsma, who remains on crutches. He was able to put about 30 percent of his weight on his recovering hip on Wednesday and says he can begin walking without the aids when he gets to about 60 percent.

Wedge also said the first intrasquad game will be Feb. 25, so we’ve got nine more days until the first live action. Then the Mariners face San Diego in the annual charity game on Feb. 27 and we’re off and running.

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FLOATS LIKE A BUTTERFLY …

I enjoyed talking this morning with knuckleballer Charlie Haeger and you can read that story here. It’s always amazing to me how the knuckler works. In his bullpen session today, Haeger was throwing to a Minor League catcher who got called in to help keep the big leaguers fresh and his first four pitches totally handcuffed the poor kid.

Not sure how much chance Haeger has of cracking the rotation, but if the Mariners need a spot starter/long reliever he could be in the mix. Just another story to watch in the coming weeks.

Here’s a photo I got showing Haeger’s grip, where he rests the finger tips of his two fingers on the ball. I don’t know which is more amazing, the way he floats that thing or the fact I actually got a decent picture of it in focus, given my limited photography skills!

HaegerKnuckle2.jpg Charlie Haeger throws his knuckleball during Wednesday’s workout. (Photo by Greg Johns)

Spring Training Day 1: Bedard, Pineda lead the way

MarinersStretchPeoria.jpgMariners pitchers and catchers stretch out before taking the field for first time Monday in Peoria, Ariz. (Photo by Charlie Riedel/AP)

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13 days until first Spring Training game.

46 days until Opening Day in Oakland.

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It was a picture-perfect day in Peoria as the Mariners hit their practice diamonds for the first time under manager Eric Wedge. You can’t ask for much more than blue skies and 80 degrees in mid-February.

Plenty of optimism to go around as well on Day 1 as Erik Bedard and Michael Pineda — two pitchers who could play significant roles if the Mariners are to surprise people this season — were in the first group of five pitchers to throw bullpen sessions.

Pineda, all 6-foot-5, 250 pounds of him, looked massive on the mound. Long, powerful legs and an imposing 22-year-old throwing hard. He’s going to be interesting to watch for everybody.

“Oh, he’s big,” Wedge said of his first impression. “I remember J.R. Richard. He was a big guy. I’d met [Pineda] a few times and talked to him in street clothes, but he looked even bigger in uniform. Then he gets up on top of that mound and he looks like he can reach out and touch you. He looked good. I liked it.”

Bedard worked much slower, a veteran move for a guy coming off shoulder problems who knows he’s not going to win or lose his job in the first bullpen session of spring. But Bedard also threw well, including some nice curve balls, which is not something everyone unveils in their first session.

You can read my full story on Bedard’s return here.

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ALMOST A FULL DECK

The only pitcher missing among the 33 expected in camp was non-roster invitee Yusmeiro Petit, who had visa problems and is still in Venezula. He’s expected later this week.

Closer David Aardsma and setup man Shawn Kelley also sat out as expected. Aardsma remains on crutches, though he hopes to begin putting weight on his surgically-repaired hip on Wednesday. Kelley isn’t expected back until about June as he recovers from partial Tommy John surgery.

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THE WEDGE RULES

The new skipper informed the team of a couple expectations at their first team meeting Monday. No cell phones in the clubhouse, no earrings on the field, be on time.

And, no, the mustached-man doesn’t have a rule against facial hair.

“I don’t get caught up in how they look,” he said. “It’s more about how they play and act.”

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THE KING WEIGHS IN

Felix Hernandez throws his first bullpen on Tuesday and is eager to get started. The Cy Young winner seems very relaxed and ready this spring, taking on a visibly bigger leadership role in the clubhouse and in dealing with the media.

He talked with Bedard over the offseason about staying with Seattle and says the veteran lefty has become one of his best friends on the team.

“When he’s healthy, we’re going to be good. Me and him together and all those other guys, we can be good,” Hernandez said.

Felix is also thrilled that his older brother, Moises, is joining the team’s Minor League camp next month.

“He’s so happy because he didn’t play last year in the States,” Felix said. “He said he’s going to do the best he can just to get to Double-A or Triple-A. And he’s having a baby in about two weeks.”

Hernandez said he works out frequently with his brother, who missed last year with a shoulder injury, starting when they were youngsters growing up in Venezuela.

“We were 13-14 years old and we broke everything in my Mom’s house,” he said. “There were a lot of foul balls, a lot of lights knocked out …”

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That’s all from today. We’re off to a busy start. If you missed it earlier, I talked with Josh Lueke about his difficult past as he tries to keep moving forward. Lueke has an excellent chance to earn a bullpen spot this Spring. You can read that story here.

And if you’re on Twitter, be sure to follow me at GregJohnsMLB for all the latest.

 

Felix taking next step as face of franchise

Felixsims.jpg

Felix Hernandez chats with Mariners broadcaster Dave Sims during FanFest, then works with a young fan in the bullpen (below). Photos by Ben VanHouten/Mariners.

Two interesting observations from the weekend’s FanFest at Safeco Field, when 12,298 fans enjoyed the chance to meet some Mariners and take their own shots at running the bases, throwing in the bullpen and catching fly balls in the outfield.

One, the Mariners were smart to play up their promising future by inviting four of their top prospects to the event. Dustin Ackley and Michael Pineda figure to be part of the very near-future at Safeco and fans enjoyed getting a chance to meet and learn more about them.

But the club also invited two young infielders — Kyle Seager and Nick Franklin — who are a little further down the pipeline as high draft choices who played Class A ball last year. That was an unusual move for a FanFest, but both showed up as bright and confident youngsters who relished the opportunity.

FelixBullpenFan.jpgI’ll have more on those players later in the week, as well as the promising Pineda, so stay tuned to Mariners.com for those stories.

But something else worth noting was the continuing emergence of Felix Hernandez as the face of the franchise. Hernandez always has been a presence because of his ability, obviously. But at 24 and fresh off his Cy Young Award, Hernandez really seems to be gaining comfort and letting his personality emerge.

With four years remaining on his five-year, $78 million deal, Hernandez isn’t taking his money and position for granted. Instead, he’s embracing an increased leadership role and public-relations responsiblity.

This was his first FanFest appearance since ’06 and he literally lit up for the fans. If you have time, check out his Q&A fan session video. It’s really a great glimpse into his personality.

Hernandez said he understands representing the Mariners is part of his job. Clearly, he gets that there’s more to being “The King” than just pitching every fifth day.

“It’s important to me and the team, too,” he said of his offseason appearances. “We’re a family together.”

Hernandez spent part of his offseason back home in Valencia, Venezuela, but he has a full-time residence in Seattle now. That is the house where the Cy Young Trophy will sit on his mantle. That is the house where he and his wife Sandra are raising their young son and daughter.

“I love this city,” Hernandez said. “This is my home.”

For Mariners’ fans who’ve always loved players who truly adopt their town — players like Edgar Martinez, Jay Buhner, Dan Wilson, Jamie Moyer — those have to be welcome words indeed.

Pineda gets promotion to 40-man roster

The Mariners will make some additions to their 40-man roster this afternoon in order to protect some youngsters from the upcoming Rule 5 draft. And GM Jack Zduriencik already acknowledged the not-surprising news on KJR-AM this morning that one of those players will be top pitching prospect Michael Pineda.

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Given that Pineda will be brought to Spring Training with the chance to compete for a spot in the Mariners rotation next season, it’s a given that the youngster would be protected this year, which is the first time he would have been exposed to the Rule 5 draft after five years in Seattle’s system.

Pineda, 21, was the Mariners Minor League Pitcher of the Year after splitting time between AA West Tenn (8-1, 2.22 ERA) and AAA Tacoma (3-3, 4.76). He racked up 154 strikeouts in 139 1/3 innings.

The Mariners have just 29 players on their current 40-man roster, so expect a good number of promotions today.

Here’s a link to the current 40-man roster as it stands.

The Rule 5 draft is held on the final day of the Winter Meetings on Dec. 9.

UPDATE (4:39 p.m.): The Mariners just released the names of all 10 players who’ve been added. Here’s the list and I’ll update with full story after a conference call with Jack Zduriencik.

·      OF Johermyn Chávez

·      RHP Maikel Cleto

·      LHP César Jiménez

·      INF Alex Liddi

·      RHP Josh Lueke

·      RHP Yoervis Medina

·      OF Carlos Peguero

·      RHP Michael Pineda

·      LHP Mauricio Robles

·      RHP Tom Wilhelmsen

 

There’s a couple interesting names on that list. Jimenez is a 26-year-old lefty who pitched 31 games of relief for the Mariners in 2008 and four games in 2006, but missed most of 2009 with a torn labrum.

 

He made a nice start on his comeback this past year and is pitching well enough in the Venezuelan League right now that the Mariners chose to protect him.

 

Wilhelmsen is another 26-year-old who pitched very well in the Mariners’ low-minor system after coming back from a six-year absence from baseball.

 

Most of the others are promising young prospects. Only three of the 10 were position players. Liddi is a third baseman from Italy with good power, Chavez is an outfielder they got in the Brandon Morrow-Brandon League trade who hit 32 home runs in A ball this year and Peguero is a big (6-5, 247) kid from the Dominican who played in the Futures Game.

 

Zduriencik said he didn’t know how soon any of these kids would make the big club, but they all are in position to get a chance in what appears a good situation for young prospects to make a name for themselves.

 

Here’s my updated story on mariners.com with quotes from Zduriencik and info on all 10 players. 

 

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