Recipe for Success

March 4, 2012 — One of the feature stories I am working on this spring will detail a day in the life of Michael Pineda, the Yankees newest starting pitcher. The feature will be published in the April 2012 issue of Yankees Magazine and in the 2012 New York Yankees Official Yearbook.

Pineda is 23 years old, and he was traded to the Yankees for another budding star, catcher Jesus Montero.

In his first big-league season, Pineda made an impact on the baseball world, posting a 9-10 record with a 3.74 ERA. The 6-foot, 7-inch righthander, who struck out 173 batters in 171 innings for the Mariners last year, was selected to pitch in the All-Star Game.

At around 7:30 am on February 29, I met Pineda at the apartment complex he is living in during Spring Training. On the way to the ballpark, he spoke to me about now much his thoughts on pitching for the Yankees.

“I’m proud to have a chance to play for the Yankees,” Pineda said. “I’m looking forward to having the chance to win every time I go out there. The Yankees’ goal is to win the World Series every year, and I feel lucky to be a part of that.”

After we arrived at George M. Steinbrenner Field, Pineda retreated to the players’

lounge, where he ate breakfast with Ivan Nova and Rafael Soriano before taking a seat at his locker next to Freddy Garcia. Garcia, whose career also began in Seattle in the late ’90s, has taken Pineda under his wing this spring.

Garcia has taken every possible opportunity to educate Pineda on the challenges of pitching on baseball’s brightest stage.

“He’s really relaxed from what I have seen so far,” Garcia told me. “He’s confident, and that’s really important. If you play in New York, you have to be confidant and go out there and show people you can pitch there.”

I then accompanied Pineda to a traveling camper that the Mizuno baseball glove manufacturer brings to each spring training complex, so that players can select the mitts they want to use during the upcoming season.

Pineda choose three new mitts for 2012.

Following that day’s workout, Pineda spent about an hour in the weight room, before leaving the complex for the day.

“It’s a pretty detailed schedule for me here,” Pineda said as he walked toward the parking lot. “If there is something to do after practice, I will do it, but I like to go home and get some rest in the afternoon.”

A few hours later, Yankees team photographer James Petrozzello, the Yankees On Demand video team and I were back at Pineda’s apartment, where the pitcher and his mother Daisy cooked locrio de pollo, a traditional Dominican meal, for the group.

“I started cooking in Wisconsin when I was 19 years old,” Pineda said. “I was pitching for the Mariners Single-A team, and there was no Dominican food there. I would call my mom every night to ask her questions about cooking. The first time I cooked a full meal was for five of my teammates. At that point, I didn’t know how much salt or sugar to add, so everything had a lot of flavor. But by the middle of that season, I had figured it out and I was a good cook.”

I believe this story will provide a thorough introduction to who Pineda is off the field, as well as how good he can be on the mound.

–Alfred Santasiere III

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