Pineda entertaining on and off the field

May 28, 2011, 9:25 PM

Cold night with the wind tonight at Safeco Field. Could be a tough night for the hitters against Felix Hernandez.

“You know what that Felix fastball is going to feel like when it hits the glove tonight?” Miguel Olivo asked with a laugh shaking his head. He knows it is part of the deal. Cold nights are not fun for catchers or hitters.

Felix knows this too. He has told me before that when he had his one hitter in Boston in ’07 at Fenway Park he knew he was at an advantage because of how cold it was. It’s one of the reasons why he never complains about the cold. That and because he is Felix and rarely complains about anything, certainly not something in the course of a game.

It is good to see the “King’s Court” sections tonight at the game. Felix was fired up about this, wearing the tee-shirt in the clubhouse before Friday’s game. He deserves all of the hype that comes his way. Something to have fun with and it is good to see the fans embrace it.

Moving on…Michael Pineda was in good spirits before today’s game. I mentioned to him (in front of Olivo and Justin Smoak) that I saw what he was doing in the clubhouse yesterday while the team was taking batting practice.

“You did?” he said with a shy smile.

Oh yeah, I did.

To set the scene, starters on their start day have a different routine from their teammates. They are allowed to come in a little late and they do not go out on the field for batting practice. This gives them over an hour of time by themselves in the clubhouse.

They get whatever treatment they may require before a start, perhaps have something to eat then try and find something to occupy their time with while their teammates are out on the field. Some watch tv, some chat with members of the clubhouse staff, some nap on the couches in the clubhouse, some play video games. Michael was doing none of the above when I walked by.

No, young Pineda was at his locker in his game pants and a tee-shirt, i-phones on, salsa dancing. He may have been singing too.

When I relayed the story to the small group they all, including Pineda, got a laugh. Then as Olivo took a drink from a water bottle Pineda declared, “I am a great dancer!”

Olivo promptly spit the water out and almost choked because he was laughing so hard. There was an exchange in Spanish, good natured from what I could tell, and then Pineda tried to look serious. That lasted for about two seconds before he burst into laughter again. “But I am a good dancer,” he exclaimed as he took off toward the field.

This is not the first time Pineda has amused his teammates. They clearly enjoy his youthful exuberance and “rookiness”. For all of the presence and composure he has on the mound he has been pretty wide eyed about things outside of his starts. It is refreshing to see. “Isn’t this great,” seems to be his attitude most of the time. All the while getting his work in, learning, and mowing down opposing lineups. Most nights. We will give him a pass on his first outing against the Yankees which by no means was awful.

He takes his struggles in stride. He knew he was off last night and said that it took a few innings for him to make the adjustment. I tweeted (and if you don’t follow me on Twitter you should @shannondrayer) in the first inning that his velocity was up a little for the first inning and that I thought that he could be a little amped up.

He has had extra adrenaline on a number of occasions this year but he has always been able to dial it in when he took the mound. He admitted that may have been a challenge last night as he was very excited to face the Yankees. He also said that he felt a little extra strong and that surprised him. “I felt that way last start too and I don’t know why,” he told me.

His command has been near extraordinary this season and that might be because he was taking a little off the ball. He generally holds back a little in the first inning and appeared unable to do so last night. He did say however that he made an adjustment and that it was an adjustment he could take forward into his next outing. Not a terrible outing by any means but a bit of a learning experience.

There are a lot of firsts for Pineda this season and it has been fun to watch him navigate his way through them.

Team: mariners
Date Starting Pitcher
Wednesday, June 7 @ 1:10 pm

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Pineda entertaining on and off the field