TAMPA, Fla. — When Michael Pineda makes his first spring training start next Monday against the Phillies, manager Joe Girardi won’t be particularly interested in the result.
Same goes for his subsequent exhibition starts as well.
This spring for the 23-year-old is almost entirely about him developing his changeup, a pitch GM Brian Cashman has called “below average.”
Pitching coach Larry Rothschild has changed Pineda’s grip on the pitch and the righthander unveiled it for the first time against hitters as he threw a live batting practice session early yesterday morning.
One of the hitters, Colin Curtis, said he didn’t see any changeups — he was impressed with Pineda’s slider — but the other hitter, Melky Mesa, did.
“New grip and it’s an adjustment,” Pineda said. “I feel comfortable now.”
That, of course, is easy to say now, one reason Girardi won’t be hung up on numbers.
“I think it’s important for him to work on it in spring training because he’s a guy we’re not going to get too caught up in the numbers,” Girardi said. “We just want him to develop that pitch. And the only way to do it is to throw it.”