Pineda's fourth start is a mixed bag

March, 20, 2012
Michael Pineda made his fourth start of the spring for the Yankees on Tuesday night, and he settled down after a rocky start.

Pineda surrendered two runs on three hits in the first inning -- including a two-run home run to left field by the Pittsburgh Pirates' Andrew McCutchen. But he settled down after that, striking out the side in the second inning and collecting two more K's in a 1-2-3 third inning.

Nevertheless, the 23-year-old only got through three innings, 72 pitches (47 for strikes), before giving way to the bullpen.

"He got in a few long counts, and he just didn’t make a pitch with his slider [on the home run]," said Yankees manager Joe Girardi. Then he seemed to get to where he was really locating his fastball and mixing his pitches well."

Pineda said he made an adjustment after the first inning, with some help from pitching coach Larry Rothschild. "In the first inning, I opened my left shoulder a little bit," said Pineda. "By the third inning, I said, 'OK,' and stayed back a little bit, and kept the ball down."

"You don’t see that a lot from young pitchers," said Girardi. "Sometimes they struggle to make an adjustment -- he made it pretty quick. I think he’s got a pretty good sense of what he needs to do, and the adjustments he needs to make."

One of the big topics at Yankees camp this spring has been Pineda's velocity -- he threw his fastball in the mid-to-high 90's last year for the Seattle Mariners, but has been living in the low 90's so far for the Yankees.

Pineda's fastball did spike up to 94 miles per hour on Tuesday night, according to the YES Network radar gun.

"I feel good," Pineda said. "Everything’s fine."

Before the game on Tuesday, Girardi said he wasn't too concerned with Pineda's velocity. "The bottom line is, he gets people out," Girardi said. "Too much can be made out of velocity. I’ve seen guys throw 97 and they can’t get anybody out.

"We believe in our hearts that the velocity is gonna get to where it needs to get. But you really still are measured by outs."

As for Pineda's changeup, which he has been working on a lot this spring, "I threw a couple good ones," Pineda said. "I’m very comfortable with my changeup now."
Kieran Darcy is an staff writer. He joined ESPN in August 2000 after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, where he played four years of JV basketball.
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