The Yankees' 'big' addition
TAMPA, Fla. -- CC Sabathia, a redwood of a pitcher at 6-foot-7, has a pants inseam of 36 inches. Ivan Nova, who is about 6-5, has an inseam of 40 inches. "But I have it that long because I wear my pants long," Nova explained, saying his legs really aren't as long as that inseam measurement suggests.
Michael Pineda is bigger than Sabathia, bigger than Nova. Phil Hughes is 6-5, and as he worked in the same group as Pineda, Sabathia and Nova at New York Yankees camp here Monday, he might as well have been Eddie Gaedel. Pineda's inseam is 40 inches, and there's nothing dressy about the longest pants size anybody can remember being handed out by the Yankees.
But if Pineda's enormity -- he is about 6-8, 290 pounds, his teammates guesstimate -- is the first impression others draw from being around him, then his raw talent as a pitcher is a close second. Sabathia, Nova, Russell Martin and others told stories of how they first heard about the Yankees' acquisition of the right-hander -- Sabathia got a text from Alex Rodriguez, asking him to call immediately because there was news -- and surprise that the Yankees could land someone so young, with so much ability. "He's big, but I see someone who is in control," Martin said.
Pineda recalled yesterday that when he was 15 years old, he wasn't any taller than any of his peers. But the year he turned 16, he remembers growing very quickly, drawing on the tall genes of his mother, he believes; she is about 6 feet tall. As he became so big, he had difficulty finding suitable clothes and shoes (he wears a size 14). "He goes to the 'big and tall,'" said Freddy Garcia, sitting next to Pineda in the Yankees' clubhouse Monday.
But even as Pineda went through his growth spurt, he can remember being able to throw the ball for strikes, after he shifted from third base to pitcher. There was not a time, he said, when his coordination fell far behind his size.
Which might be his greatest gift as a pitcher. Sabathia remembered his first seasons after signing with the Cleveland Indians, when he had a lot of trouble commanding his fastball. But at age 22 last season, Pineda issued only 55 walks in 171 innings, remarkable efficiency for a pitcher so big and so young.
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