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05/03/11 10:00 PM ET
Pineda nets AL Rookie of Month honors
By Bob Sherwin / Special to MLB.com
SEATTLE -- Michael Pineda is just a 22-year-old and already he's building a legacy with the Mariners. Pineda went 4-1 with a 2.01 ERA in April, good enough to earn American League Rookie of the Month honors. He's the Mariners' first rookie starter to win four games in a month since Freddy Garcia in August 1999. "It's good. I'm excited. Rookie of the Month. Wow," said Pineda, who was the third-youngest player in the league on Opening Day. "The first month is a little difficult for me because it's my first time playing. But I have too many friends here. My friends help me all the time." Pineda tied all Major League rookie pitchers in wins and ranked second in strikeouts with 30. He tossed 31 1/3 innings, allowing 22 hits and seven earned runs while issuing 12 walks and holding opposing batters to a .198 average. Pineda pitched at least six innings in each of his five starts while allowing no more than five hits. "It's a great accomplishment his first month in the big leagues," manager Eric Wedge said. "It says a lot about his consistency. He has handled everything well. Now there's a lot of attention coming his way. He has as to handle that well, too. There will continue to be challenges that he'll have to handle, but so far he has handled everything well." One of the challenges will come Wednesday, when he faces the Rangers for a second time. Texas beat the 6-foot-7 Dominican in his debut on April 5. I'm working hard," he said. "I want to win." Pineda is just the fifth rookie pitcher since 1900 to win four consecutive starts in one season before the end of April. He joins Monte Weaver (1932 Washington Senators), Jerry Koosman (1968 New York Mets), Fernando Valenzuela (1981 Los Angeles Dodgers -- five in a row) and Kaz Ishii (2002 Dodgers -- five in a row). Pineda, the Mariners' Minor League Pitcher of the Year last season, said that he's not nervous in the big leagues "because I have so many players here. They talk to me and [catcher] Miguel Olivo is a Dominican guy. He talks to me. He tells me to take it easy. He's says, 'It's a different game, throw it down. That's it.'" He also gets encouragement from unusual sources -- his opponents -- such as Detroit's Miguel Cabrera and Boston's David Ortiz. Ortiz went up to him when he was working out in a gym last week in Boston. "I'm excited see Big Papi. He talked to me a lot in the gym," Pineda said. "He said, 'I'm excited for you. You're a good pitcher. Focus on the game at all times.' I'm excited he talked to me."
Bob Sherwin is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.