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For Angels starter Joel Pineiro, sinking is an up

The team's new right-hander figures that once he gets his best pitch working right this spring, there will be a lot of ground balls for his infield.

February 27, 2010|By Jim Peltz

Reporting from Tempe, Ariz. — Newly acquired Angels starting pitcher Joel Pineiro said Friday that while he's eager for the season to start, he needs spring training to get his trademark sinker behaving the way he wishes.

"Sometimes when I'm throwing it, it's moving too much out of the plate so you've got to find that good release point where you can be around the plate," the right-hander said.

"I'm still working on the location, making sure all the pitches are where they need to be. Everything's good, I'm working hard and can't wait until the games get started."

Pineiro, 31, joined the Angels' starting rotation after being signed as a free agent in January to a two-year, $16-million contract.

He is coming off a strong 2009 with the St. Louis Cardinals -- 15-12 with a 3.49 earned-run average and a career-high 214 innings. Pineiro (pronounced pin-AIR-oh) also struck out 105 while walking only 27.

This will be his ninth full season in the majors; his career record is 87-79 with a 4.39 ERA. He spent his first six full seasons with the Seattle Mariners, for whom he won a combined 30 games in 2002 and 2003.

When Pineiro signed with the Angels, he had called it "a great fit," and Friday he elaborated on that before working out at Tempe Diablo Stadium.

"I did my homework, I talked to people," the native Puerto Rican said. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive and that "made it easier for me" to sign.

"Obviously, it's a winning organization, a winning tradition," Pineiro said. "Starting from the front office to the coaching to the players to the weather to the fans."

In addition, Angels Manager Mike Scioscia and his coaching staff "emphasize defense, and I'm a pitcher who uses his defense a lot," Pineiro said. "I'm not going to go out there and strike out a lot of people.

"Hopefully, I have the ball [being hit] on the ground most of the time," he said, meaning Angels infielders "are going to be working hard for me."

Scioscia said part of Pineiro's appeal is that "he's pitched with winning organizations, teams that have won, whether it was Seattle or when he was in St. Louis," and he's "already been acclimated to the American League when he came up with Seattle."

Pineiro last year ranked first among major league pitchers in walks per nine innings (1.14 on average) and in 13 starts had no walks.

"He does a lot of things well," Scioscia said. "He's not just out there throwing innings, he's out there pitching deep into games and pitching very effective baseball deep into games. That's where you want every one of your starters.

"He fields his position extremely well, controls the running game well. We feel very comfortable that he's going to be able to do that."

Broadcaster search

The search for the Angels' next television broadcast team is "progressing rapidly" but no decision has yet been reached, Angels spokesman Tim Mead said.

"There have been a lot of submissions from a lot of quality people," he said, adding an announcement would be made "as soon as possible."

The search was needed because Rory Markas died unexpectedly Jan. 4. Markas was scheduled to do TV play-by-play, with Mark Gubicza as the analyst.

Terry Smith and Jose Mota are set to handle the handle the radio broadcasts, with Smith -- and, at times, Mota -- also doing spring-training TV broadcasts on a simulcast basis, Mead said.

Most of the spring games will be televised on Fox Sports West, starting with the March 4 opener against the Chicago White Sox.

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