Olivo on Pineda: ‘He is not afraid of anyone’
I caught up this morning with Miguel Olivo, who was enjoying a rare day off complete with a massage from trainer Taka, who usually works on Ichiro. “That is definitely one of the things I missed,” Olivo said with a laugh.
It wasn’t all relaxation for Olivo, who tends to hit the weights harder in days that he doesn’t catch. He spent time going over the scouting report, had a few words with the starter Adam Moore and took time out to harass Felix Hernandez, who was relaxing on a couch before the game.
I talked to Olivo about what he saw from Michael Pineda last night. Before the game he told me that he had been talking to him for the past few days about his first start and even called him the night before.
“I just told him to be calm out there, that was my main message to him,” he said.
A calm Pineda is what he got the next night. If there were nerves he did not display them. He pitched his game and didn’t back down. Not even against the red hot Nelson Cruz, who Pineda went right after with inside pitches. Olivo was impressed with this.
“He is not afraid of anyone. He trusts his stuff, his fastball, his slider,” Olivo said. “He told me in the bullpen, ‘I just want to throw whatever you put in there. I am not afraid. If you want to go inside, you go inside. If I hit somebody, I hit somebody,’ and I go, ‘Wow.’
“I am amazed at him, you know? He gives me a lot of confidence too. I didn’t have to think two times to call a pitch.”
Pineda’s secondary pitches have been a concern for some. The slider is a great pitch when he is on but the changeup is still developing. Yesterday at times it was hard to pick up. Was that really a 90 mph changeup we were seeing and could it be effective just 5-6 mph slower than his fastball?
“That thing?” Olivo asked, shaking his head. “I don’t want to face that. That thing was moving a lot yesterday. The slider was moving down all the pitches, the fastball, everything. It’s amazing, I am shocked. I have caught a lot of rookies but he was one of the top ones.”
High praise from a veteran catcher who has caught not only a lot of rookies but a few Cy Young winners as well. There is little question it was a successful debut.
One last note. If you were watching on TV you saw Chone Figgins trot out to the mound before first pitch and have a few words with Pineda before reaching up and tapping him on the chest. What did he say?
“I said welcome to the big leagues, you deserve it,” Figgins told him in Spanish. “Now lets go have fun.”