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March 2, 2010 at 11:57 AM

Pitching and defense once again dominate Mariners intrasquad game

The talk of today’s five-inning intrasquad game, won 2-0 by the “Visitors” team, was young Class A hurler Michael Pineda. There was a chance he wasn’t even going to be included in the five-inning game, but the team decided to let him participate and pitch the final inning. See him record all three outs in the video above.
All he did was retire the side in order, striking out Greg Halman, then getting Chris Woodward on a groundout and Eliezer Alfonzo on a harmless looking grounder to the right side. The thing about the outing was how quickly he worked and how aggressively he attacked the strike zone.
Pineda is a guy a lot of folks had their eye on heading into last spring, but who spent much of the year on the DL with elbow problems. He still went 4-2 with a 2.84 earned run average at Class A High Desert, striking out 48 and walking just 6 in 44 1/3 innings of 10 games — eight of them starts. Those are some big numbers for a guy who just turned 21.
Did I mention that the Dominican native has the body of an NFL tight end? The kid is humungous. Looks like he could take Ken Griffey Jr. and bench press him about 20 times. The media guide lists him as 6-foot-5, 243 pounds, which must have been before he grew another two inches and packed on 20 more pounds. The kid is a beast. This is no hyperbole, here, he is massive. Talk about an intimidating mound presence.
Anyhow, there’s a whole lot more that goes into a pitcher’s development than one inning of an intrasquad game, but he sure was fun to watch.
“John Boles, in one of our meetings the other day, he was floating around, looking at guys and he said ‘You might want to take a look at this guy’,” Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu said. “And that’s what we’re talking about. It’s (important) for us to know what we have down below. And this kid is special. Pretty special.”
Pineda throws a hard sinker, which you saw hitters rolling over on in the video.
Wakamatsu said he was impressed by how athletic Pineda is for his size.
“He’s one of those guys you want to take with you after a first look,” he said. “But real impressive.”
For now, the team has to make sure he stays healthy and continues to do what he’s doing over a longer stretch. The health of his arm will help determine whether he remains a starter, or a reliever.
Wakamatsu said he might pitch Pineda in a Cactus League outing but isn’t sure because of the need to take things slowly with his health.
“We did want to see him, get him a little bit of action out there,” Wakamatsu said. “We did this game in case we wanted to throw him a little bit so he could be a little bit more comfortable.”
On to the major leaguers, we didn’t see much scoring today, but Ryan Langerhans did manage to tag Josh Fields for a home run to left. You can see that in the video we’ve provided below (for me, the most fun parts of these videos is listening to the commentary of the fans standing around me). Watch Langerhans as he nears second base, then turns and starts to head back to the dugout, thinking the fly ball was caught. He is quickly told the ball is out and starts to round the bases again. Funny thing. You’d think he’d be used to it with those two walk-off home runs last year. Then again, he’s never been much of a power guy before so this whole home run trot thing is still a novelty.

“He’s getting a little bit bigger and stronger,” Wakamatsu said. “Things we asked him over last year (to do) and he comes up and hits a nice home run.”
Fields has been working on some mechanical things with his pitches, so he had some fits and starts today. There were positives and negatives. Besides th home run, he also walked a batter during his inning-long stint.

marisquad0302 023.JPG
Here is the starting lineup for tomorrow’s Cactus League opener against the San Francisco Giants at Peoria Stadium tomorrow. The Charity Game with the Padres isn’t until Thursday, so the first game counts this year in exhibition standings.
RF Ichiro
2B Figgins
LF Milton Bradley
DH Ken Griffey Jr.
3B Jose Lopez
1B Casey Kotchman
CF Eric Byrnes
C Adam Moore
SS Jack Wilson
RHP Doug Fister
Other pitchers: RHP Kanekoa Texeira, RHP Ricky Orta, RHP David Pauley, RHP Mike Koplove, RHP Jesus Colome, LHP Chris Seddon
Wakamatsu plans to go with an “every other day” type of lineup for the first week, meaning one day of something resembling a regular starting nine and then another day with more reservists and minor leaguers.
Rob Johnson caught two bullpen sessions today but won’t get in a game for at least another week because the team wants him to take it slow.
Some more information out of today’s game: Dustin Ackley looked impressive, going 2-for-2 with a pair of singles on some tough pitches. He also played solid defense once again and looks ready to step right in to the pro ranks.
Franklin Gutierrez went 0-for-1 with a walk and a strikeout in action as a DH. He also got grazed on the hand by a Chad Cordero pitch (it wasn’t ruled a HBP), but was OK.
Cordero took the loss, giving up a run on a hit and two walks in just a third of an inning. He told me afterwards he felt better than he has yet, with the ball coming out of his hand nicely, but he was too amped up throwing to major leaguers for the first time since 2008.
“My arm felt good, I was just way too excited out there,” he said. “I was trying to do way too much. You can’t go out there and expect to throw a perfect inning after missing two years.”
Ezequiel Carrera, an all-star Class AA outfielder, yet another player acquired in that J.J. Putz deal, wound up scoring the winning run after drawing a walk off Cordero and moving around the bases on ensuing walks and hits.
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Some of you asked me for a photo of minor league third baseman Alex Liddi. Well, here he is. The Class A all-star went 0-for-1 with a strikeout today, but also made a nice play short-hopping a grounder to third.
Ryan Rowland-Smith looked strong today, giving up a hit but also fanning a pair in his lone inning to start the game. Liking what I’ve seen from Rowland-Smith thus far this spring. That new cutter should add something to his repetoire that can fool hitters and help him retire guys with more than just flyballs.
Sean White also had a good outing in his one inning for the winning side, striking out Michael Saunders to start his frame, giving up a single to Ackley after that, but then erasing it on a double-play grounder by Michael Wilson.
White told me after the game that his arm is feeling strong so far this spring.
“The off-season for me was just a lot of strengthening and trying to get myself into the best position to be healthy and strong,” White said. “Where I want to be is to have the same delivery as last year. What it is for me, is finding it early in camp and keeping it up.”
White has no idea what caused his season-ending shoulder problem last year.
He just wants to stay on his throwing program for now — one that trainer Rick Griffin designed for him this winter — and get a feel for his sinker. He says his big thing now is working on keeping stuff down in the strike zone, which he did when it mattered against Wilson in that first inning.
Don’t forget Geoff Baker Live! coming up at 6 p.m. Pacific time.

Comments | Topics: Chris Woodward


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