Michael Pineda has, by all accounts, looked pretty sharp during spring training. His project for this spring was to work on his changeup and, following his second start in the Yankees' win yesterday over the Nationals, he sounded pretty excited about how that pitch is coming along:
“My changeup today, ooph!” Pineda said. “It was great.”
So, the changeup's working, and Pineda's slider (his "baby") looks splendid as well, but folks are still obsessing over a fastball that, so far, has been a couple ticks short of its expected velocity. Perhaps because of Phil Hughes's speed-related struggles last season, Pineda's gradual progression has been met with a bit of wariness and impatience. Joe Girardi, speaking to the Daily News, acknowledged a tendency toward paranoia following Hughes's issues last season, but insisted that the Yankees "still have time" to wait for the fastball to come along and that power pitchers have always "taken a while to get going."
Meanwhile, one hopes that the constant attention and dissection isn't getting to Pineda's head too much. He's doing his best not to wilt under heavy scrutiny. From ESPN's Andrew Marchand:
Michael Pineda is a bit scared because he has quickly learned that the requirements of being a Yankee are much different than being a Mariner. The biggest difference is the media.
"Sometimes I'm a little scared because I don't want to make a mistake," Pineda said. "I try to speak English, but my English is not very good."
This was said to the same guy who suggested that it might make sense to send Pineda down to the minors a few days ago, which isn't out of the question, but is exactly the kind of speculation that could mess with a youngster's head.
Patience and forgiveness are not exactly our strong suits as New York sports fans, but it'd be nice if we could take it easy on the 23-year-old and let him progress at his own pace. Like Girardi said, there's still plenty of time, and it'd be a mistake to project so much insecurity onto a kid who's going through quite a bit all at once. Pineda still sounds upbeat and confident, and it'd be a shame to see those feelings shaken out of him by New Yorkers being New Yorkers. That fastball has time to recover and, hey, how about that changeup? Ooph!