Catcher Miguel Olivo was handling three to four pitchers a day early in camp with the Seattle Mariners, and knew very few of them by name - and one, Michael Pineda, he simply called 'The Big Guy.'
Makes sense: Pineda is listed at 6-foot-5 and 250 pounds, and he says he's both taller and heavier.
"I'm very strong," Pineda said today after pitching two perfect innings against the Arizona Diamondbacks. It was his first start against big-league hitters, and Pineda threw 22 pitches, 11 in each inning.
When he got to the sixth hitter, Xavier Nady, Pineda went to a full count.
"I went to 3-2, then fastball. He fouled it off," he said. "Another fastball, he fouled it off. So I thought, ‘OK, I’ll throw you the slider!’ and I threw it for a strike"
Pineda walked off the mound and was mobbed by teammates in the dugout who high-fived him, patted him on the back and made the rookie feel special. What was the 22-year-old right-hander think as he left the mound?
"When I came off the mound after the second inning, I was thinking ‘Oh thank you God, oh thank you God!’ That was a nice two innings, quick innings," Pineda said. "That was good for today."
Pineda said tonight he would call his mother and family in the Dominican Republic and his teammate, Felix Hernandez.
"Felix is my friend," Pineda said.