Pineiro hopes to remain a Cardinal
St. Louis (85-61) vs. Florida (77-68), 1:15 p.m. CT
ST. LOUIS -- Free-agent-to-be Joel Pineiro has informed his agent, Adam Katz, that he would like to try and work out a deal to remain with the Cardinals beyond this season. But the Cardinals and general John Mozeliak now plan on waiting until the offseason to continue talks with any of their pending free agents.
Pineiro, who is 14-10 with a 3.21 ERA in 28 starts for the Cardinals in 2009, said that his agent has told team officials that he and his client are ready to talk whenever they are.
"Definitely, I like it here," Pineiro said Tuesday. "I like the staff, the players, everything. I saw what happened with Kyle Lohse last year and obviously that worked out great for him. You go into the offseason knowing where you are going to be. You're happy, the team is happy and it worked out for everybody.
"When we went and played in LA, my agent is out there and he told me that he is just waiting for them."
But it appears the Cardinals won't be picking up the phone any time soon.
"I haven't had any communication with them," said general manager John Mozeliak. "I think right now, all of our dialogue is just going to wait until after the season, for anybody."Pineiro went 6-4 with a 3.96 ERA in 11 starts with the Cardinals in 2007 after he was traded midseason from the Boston Red Sox, and he signed a two-year, $13 million contract extension soon after the season ended. His ERA jumped to 5.15 in 26 games in 2008, when he went 7-7 and allowed 22 home runs while battling an injured groin. Pitching coach Dave Duncan approached Pineiro during the 2008 season about throwing a sinker, but the right-hander politely declined.
"He talked with me about it, but I thought, 'That's not me, I'm not that type of pitcher,'" Pineiro said. "But I saw more and more guys doing it and having success with it and I talked a little bit to [Chris] Carpenter and [Adam] Wainwright about it and I finally said, 'Why not?'"
So Pineiro and Duncan talked on the first day that the pitcher arrived for Spring Training in February and the two decided to give it a try.
"He said, 'I have a feeling that if you trust the sinker and use it the right way, you will have success, but you have to trust it,'" Pineiro said. "The first bullpen I threw, he said, 'I want all of the fastballs that you throw to be sinkers. I don't care what the results are, I just want you to feel it in your hand and see what movement you get with it and stuff.'"That first time was weird. I had to take my time as far as getting my grip, feeling the ball with two seams. Before, my normal grip was four seams, but now I was looking in the glove to make sure I had it right and stuff." The righty couldn't see any results during the early part of Spring Training, but soon noticed an immediate change once the games began.
He went 3-0 with a 1.44 ERA in six Spring Training starts."You couldn't tell until we started facing hitters," Pineiro said. "Once I got into my first couple of games, I could tell that it was making a big difference. I was getting a lot of early-count outs. I faced Baltimore and Rick Kranitz, the Baltimore pitching coach who was my pitching coach in the Winter League one year, he said, 'Wow, when did you get that sinker? You had all of these guys moving all over the place.'" And the success carried right over into the season for Pineiro, who has walked 22 batters and allowed seven home runs in 190 2/3 innings. The righty has three complete games -- two of which were shutouts -- and said recently that he wished he had learned to throw the sinker earlier in his career because of the success that he is having with it. Pineiro could command big money if he reaches free agency, but with the way things have turned out for him in St. Louis, he hopes he is able to stick around for years to come. "We'll just have to wait and see what happens," Pineiro said. Pitching matchup
STL: RHP Joel Pineiro (14-10, 3.21 ERA)
Pineiro's done it a little bit differently in the second half, but every bit as well as he did in the first. He's striking out more batters over the past couple of months, while keeping his groundball rate just as ridiculously high as it was early in the season. That's added up to continued success for the right-hander, who has clearly established himself as the choice to be the Cards' No. 3 starter in a playoff series. He's been especially outstanding at home, with a 2.52 ERA at Busch Stadium. FLA: RHP Josh Johnson (14-4, 3.06 ERA)
Other than a two-run homer by Adam Dunn in the first inning, Johnson was barely hit hard in a no-decision against the Nationals on Friday. But because of a high pitch count, he didn't get into the sixth inning for the second consecutive outing -- with both coming against Washington -- and couldn't get in line to record his 23rd quality start of the year. The 25-year-old finished having allowed two runs on two hits and four walks while striking out eight, but he threw 89 pitches over five innings, and only 51 of them were strikes. Johnson has already notched career highs in starts, wins, innings and strikeouts this season and has won 19 of his last 23 decisions. He's 0-1 with a 3.95 ERA in two career starts against the Cardinals. Tidbits
The Cardinals went over the three-million mark in season attendance on Tuesday night, marking the sixth straight year that they have accomplished the feat. It is the 11th time in franchise history that they reached the three-million plateau. The Cardinals rank third in the National League in attendance, behind the Los Angeles Dodgers and Philadelphia Phillies. ... Rookie reliever Blake Hawksworth won his fourth straight decision on Monday night. He is the first Cardinals rookie reliever to win four straight decisions since Brad Thompson in 2005. Mike Perez (1992) and Todd Worrell (1986) hold the Cardinals wins record for a rookie reliever with nine each. Tickets
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Friday: Cardinals (Chris Carpenter, 16-4, 2.45) vs. Cubs (Ted Lilly, 12-8, 3.05), 7:15 p.m. CT
Saturday: Cardinals (John Smoltz, 3-6, 6.53) vs. Cubs (Ryan Dempster, 10-8, 3.84), 3:10 p.m. CT
B.J. Rains is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.