BY John Hickey 08:11PM 05/03/2011

Hickey: Pineda carving out big league reputation

AL Rookie of the Month gets rave reviews, even from the one team that beat him.

Michael Pineda is just the third Mariner ever to win a Rookie of the Month award. / Drew Sellers, Sportspress Northwest

How does a Major League reputation develop?

Just by doing what Michael Pineda is doing.

The Mariner rookie starter was awarded the American League Rookie of the Month award for April Tuesday, just the third Mariner ever to win the award.

While that’s nice, it’s not something you can build a reputation on. You build a reputation by putting together the kind of numbers that earn you such awards. In Pineda’s case, that would be a 4-1 record, a fourth-in-the-AL 2.01 ERA and a four-game winning streak heading into Wednesday’s start against Texas, making the AL West leaders the first team in the big leagues to face Pineda a second time.

And you build a reputation by getting the opposing manager, in this case the Rangers’ Ron Washington, to say stuff like this:

“There’s no advantage to anybody seeing him a second time, not with an arm like that,’’ Washington said before Tuesday’s series opener in Safeco Field. “Not at all.’’

And that comes from the manager of the only team to beat Pineda in the majors. Texas beat him 3-2 back in his first big league start back on April 5. He gave up five hits and one walk in that one, and with a little bit of help from the offense could have won the game.

As it was, he left quite an impression.

“The first time we saw him, he did things we didn’t think he could do,’’ Washington said. “He had such command of his pitches – the off-speed stuff, the splitter and with the fastball.’’

Pineda, who at 22 was the third-youngest player in the big leagues on Opening Day, only threw 85 pitches in six innings in that one, and Washington said that has to change if the Rangers want to maximize their chances against Pineda Wednesday.

“The key for us is to get his pitch count up and get him out of the game,’’ Washington said. “So, no, I don’t think there’s any advantage to seeing him a second time. It’s almost going to be like facing another (expletive) Felix (Hernandez).’’

That last bit was said with a mixture resignation and humility. The Rangers have had more success against defending Cy Young Award winner Felix Hernandez (13 wins, 10 losses) than any team in baseball and still “you hate having to face him, every time,’’ Washington said.

Washington says teams could quickly come to feel the same way about Pineda, who has batters averaging just .198 against him while having struck out 30 in 31.1 innings. And he’s averaging just over two walks per start.

Opposing hitters have sought him out. On the last road trip, Pineda got words of encouragement from Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera and Boston’s David Ortiz, two of the most feared hitters in the league.

“Wow. I’m excited; I don’t know what to say,’’ Pineda said shortly after the announcement came down. “I was excited to meet Big Papi (Ortiz). He said `Hey, Pineda, I’m excited for you. You’re a good pitcher.

“Cabrera said a lot like that, too.’’

Now that kind of word of mouth, that builds up a reputation.

Twitter: @JHickey3


YourThoughts

  • SeaChicken

    Frank Oleynick’s nickname, or what the Sonics PR guys tried to nickname him,  was “Magic”.  Funny, it didn’t stick.  One last thought concerning Aaron Curry —   he has a strong resemblance to man with the special powers in “Green Mile”.  

  • crumudgeon

    You should do a similar piece called “worst trades”.  Remember the Sonics trading away Dennis Johnson to Phoenix for Paul Westphaul?   What about the Vin Baker deal?  What about Milton Bradley?  

  • Pixel13

    Given where he was picked, you have to include Rick Mirer in the ‘bust’ list.  The fact he played in the # games he did is purely attributable to how desperate the Seahawks were for a QB.

    @ crumudgeon: Milton Bradley deal doesn’t at all belong in a ‘worst trades’ list.  When you trade one worthless cancer for another, it’s a wash.  Mariners made many far worse trades.  One sample: Jason Varitek and Derek Lowe for Heathcliff Slocumb.

  • Anonymous

    I’d never heard of the Andre Hines thing. I didn’t start following the Hawks until 84. That is CRAZY.

  • joenashfan

    Not sure if it’s true, but I heard that Chuck Knox wanted to draft Favre instead McGuire.  Behring makes the Redskins owner look great.

  • 1coolguy

    Pretty tough to win when the defense and special teams puts the O in such a hole. UW is ranked 93rd of 120 D-1 teams, ugh. Sure wish we’d at least make a fight of it – have the players given up on Holt?

    http://content.usatoday.com/sportsdata/football/ncaaf/stats/team-total-defense