Working hard on, off field

  • By Kirby Arnold Herald Writer
  • Saturday, March 12, 2011 12:01am
  • Sports

GOODYEAR, Ariz. — By day, Michael Pineda works to become a pitcher worthy of the Seattle Mariners’ starting rotation.

At night, the 22-year-old goes to his apartment and pours himself into something else he considers vital in his development: the English language.

The Mariners’ top pi

tching prospect labored somewhat in his third spring training outing Friday, allowing two runs on four hits and a walk in three innings. Afterward, as he tried to describe his outing to a half-dozen reporters, Pineda apologized.

“I’m sorry about my English. I want to try,” he said. “I’m working every day on my English.”

The Mariners put all their non-English-speaking minor leaguers through the Rosetta Stone language program. That’s how Pineda, from the Dominican Republic, spends his evenings.

“He wants to be great. He knows that little things matter,” said Pedro Grifol, the Mariners’ minor league director. “He knows that if he does the little things, then big things can happen. He grasps that.”

The Mariners emphasize the off-field growth of their young players, from teaching them how to handle finances, social situations and, in the case of those who haven’t been in this country for long, English.

It’s part of the organization’s effort to eliminate situations — Grifol calls them “interferences” — that may have a negative impact on players’ performances.

“The last thing we want is this guy out there on the field thinking about how he’s going to talk to (reporters),” Grifol said. “Michael works as hard at it as anybody we’ve got.”

Pineda, in fact, says grasping the language is tougher so far than baseball.

“The pitching is very hard,” he said. “The English is very hard, too. I think English is harder for me. I’m from the Dominican Republic and I’m working every day.”

On the field, Friday was another day of growth for the biggest player at spring training with the Mariners. Pineda, 6 feet 7 inches and 260 pounds, allowed four hits and two runs in three innings in the Mariners’ 5-5 tie against the Cleveland Indians. He struck out three, walked one and allowed a home run in his 49-pitch outing.

Throwing his fastball between 94 and 97 mph and mixing sliders and changeups, Pineda’s roughest inning was the second when he allowed doubles to Travis Hafner and Jack Hannahan and walked Ezequiel Carrera.

Pineda struggled to locate his fastball during that inning and stepped off the mound several times between pitches to gather himself.

“When I’m a little quick in my mechanics and my pitches aren’t strikes, I (step off) the mound and think about my control,” he said.

It’s the first time Pineda has struggled in his three spring training outings. He had pitched four scoreless innings his previous two games.

The most telling indication of Pineda’s composure came in the third inning after Asdrubal Cabrera hit a leadoff home run. It didn’t fluster Pineda, who got three straight outs, including strikeouts of Shin-Soo Choo and Hafner.

Mariners manager Eric Wedge, who’s looking for such situations to gauge whether Pineda is ready for the Mariners’ starting rotation this year, was impressed.

“Those are indicators,” Wedge said. “You’re always looking to see how young players react to different outcomes. I think he’s done a heck of a job so far. The ball elevated a little on him, but he worked through it and finished strong in the end.”

Just as impressive was that Pineda faced a lineup comprised mostly of Indians regulars and not a collection of minor leaguers that’s common at spring training.

“He’ll continue to go out there when it’s his day to pitch and work through different situations, whether it’s different lineups or what kind of stuff he has that day and what kind of adjustments he needs to make, and how he reacts to it,” Wedge said. “Whether it be from the mechanical side of it or the emotional side of it, everything we’ve seen thus far is to the positive side.”

Pineda felt the same way. He was happy to face more major league-quality players because that’s who he expects to pitch against this season.

“I want to be in the rotation,” he said. “I want to throw in the big leagues.”

He said it in English.

Talk to us

More in Sports

Brazilian skater Kelvin Hoefler jumps over the SLS sign during a Street League Skateboarding event. (Photo provided by SLS)
Ready to get radical in Everett

Street League Skateboarding is bringing some of the world’s top skateboarders to Angel of the Winds Arena this weekend.

Seattle Seahawks' Marshawn Lynch warms up before an NFL wild-card playoff football game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Sunday, Jan. 5, 2020, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Michael Perez)
Vegas police: Marshawn Lynch was asleep in car before arrest

The former Seahawks’ vehicle was in “undriveable condition,” with no tire on the driver’s side front wheel, according to a report.

A korfball hits the edge of the basket Thursday evening at Mukilteo Beach on September 9, 2021. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Community roundup: Kamiak trio set for beach korfball worlds

Plus, Cascade grad Aubrey Peterson helps Great Britain earn softball silver and much more.

Seattle Mariners players dance as they celebrate their 4-3 win over the New York Yankees in a baseball game, Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2022, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
M’s rally past Yankees on Santana homer in 7th

Hours after a thrilling 13-inning win, Seattle comes from behind to beat New York 4-3.

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith, center, passes as head coach Pete Carroll, left, and assistant quarterbacks coach Kerry Joseph, right, look on, during NFL football practice Saturday, July 30, 2022, in Renton, Wash. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Smith to start at QB in Seahawks’ preseason opener

Veteran Geno Smith remains in front of Drew Lock in the key position battle, according to head coach Pete Carroll.

AquaSox's manager, Louis Boyd, Funko Field at Everett Memorial Stadium in Everett on July 28, 2019. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
AquaSox hold off Dust Devils to snap 6-game skid

Mike Salvatore and Dariel Gomez provide key hits in Everett’s 4-2 win.

FILE - Serena Williams reacts after beating Victoria Azarenka, of Belarus, in the championship match at the 2012 U.S. Open tennis tournament, Sunday, Sept. 9, 2012, in New York. Saying “the countdown has begun,” 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams announced Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022, she is ready to step away from tennis so she can turn her focus to having another child and her business interests, presaging the end of a career that transcended sports.AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Serena Williams says she’s ready to step away from tennis

The 23-time Grand Slam champion indicates in an essay that she will stop playing after this month’s U.S. Open.

Washington State head coach Nick Rolovich looks on during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Utah, Saturday, Dec. 19, 2020, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
Rolovich seeking $25M from WSU for wrongful termination

The football coach was fired in 2021 for refusing to get the COVID-19 vaccine as required of state employees.

FILE - Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch walks off the field after NFL football practice in Renton, Wash., in this Friday, Dec. 27, 2019, file photo. During Marshawn Lynch’s 12 NFL seasons he earned a reputation for his fearless style on the field, while remaining one of the league’s most reclusive figures off the field. Now the retired running back is lending his voice to try to help members of Black and Hispanic communities make more informed decisions about receiving COVID-19 vaccines. Lynch released a 30-minute interview with Dr. Anthony Fauci on his YouTube channel Friday, April 16, 2021, becoming the latest prominent athlete to sit down with him to discuss the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines as the U.S. continues to combat the pandemic.  (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)
Marshawn Lynch arrested on suspicion of DUI in Las Vegas

The former Seahawks star was taken into custody around 7:25 a.m. Tuesday morning.

Most Read