Pineiro gets feel for pitches, new team
Righty has 'exciting' two-inning outing in debut with Halos
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Even at age 31, with 285 games worth of Major League experience, a player can experience a measure of anxiety when he debuts with a new club.
Joel Pineiro felt that tingling sensation in his stomach when he took the mound on Thursday for the Angels in their Cactus League opener against the White Sox at Tempe Diablo Stadium.
"I was just trying to get a feel for pitches, see some hitters," Pineiro said, having yielded one earned run on three hits and a walk in two innings. "I had little butterflies. It was exciting, exciting to be out there with a new team."
Pineiro, who was 15-12 with a 3.49 ERA for the Cardinals in 2009, is joining a rotation manager Mike Scioscia is calling the deepest as he enters his 11th season on the job.
"I threw all sinkers -- four curveballs, one slider," he said. "I was trying to work both sides with sink. Even on the walk [to Jordan Danks], the ball was down. I'd rather miss down than up. It means I'm getting out front.
"I got four or five ground balls. That's what I'm looking for. Hopefully, I'll keep getting ground balls like today."
One of those bouncers was turned into two outs by shortstop Erick Aybar after an error was charged to Howard Kendrick ranging to his right on Juan Pierre's leadoff bouncer.
Three singles in the second produced a Chicago run, Dayan Viciedo lashing an RBI single to left with two outs.
"He threw strikes, got ground balls," Scioscia said of Pineiro, who struck out two men looking during a 34-pitch effort. "It was good to see the interaction between he and Nap [catcher Mike Napoli]. Every time you play the game you learn some stuff, clean some stuff up. There were a lot of good things we saw."
Scioscia also was impressed with right-handed reliever Brian Stokes, who struck out one and walked two in two scoreless innings in his Angels debut.
"The ball was coming out of his hand really hot, a good sign," Scioscia said. "He's got some length, and he's a power arm. He's going to help us."
2010 Spring Training - Los Angeles Angels
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Pineiro, a power pitcher in his youth with Seattle, revived his career in St. Louis with a reliance on the two-seam fastball, darting into the lower reaches of the strike zone.
Cards pitching coach Dave Duncan encouraged him to develop the pitch, and Pineiro began throwing it more often -- and with good results -- in his final three starts of 2008.
It became his out pitch in '09, enabling him to lead the Majors in fewest walks allowed per nine innings (1.14) and highest ground-ball/fly-ball ratio (2.73).
"Faith and trust in the sinker is one thing I owe to him," Pineiro said of Duncan. "He said at the end of the '08 season it was a good pitch for me. He has all his guys -- [Chris] Carpenter, [Adam] Wainwright -- throwing sinkers.
"I didn't change my mechanics. I have the same curveball, same slider. It just gave me another good pitch I could rely on."
Pineiro said he is enjoying the interactions with his new teammates, sharing a corner of the home clubhouse with fellow starters Scott Kazmir, Jered Weaver, Ervin Santana and Joe Saunders.
"We're starting to get good relationships and camaraderie between the clubhouse and the starting five," he said. "After the first [part] of the year, anyone can be a No. 1 guy."
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.