Pestano's return to form a work in progress
CLEVELAND -- The Indians saw signs this spring that Vinnie Pestano was getting closer to the type of reliever he was a couple years ago. Through two appearances this season, it is evident that Pestano still has work to do in his comeback.
During Saturday's 7-3 loss to the Twins, Pestano allowed two runs on three hits in the ninth inning, marking the second outing in a row in which he allowed a run. The right-hander's pitch velocity also continues to be lower than his usual level.
Indians manager Terry Francona said Pestano's return to form remains a work in progress.
"We're trying to figure out where Vinnie is," Francona said on Sunday morning. "I don't think we're at the finishing line yet. I think that's probably the best way to put it. He showed up in really good shape. I think he felt like he had a lot to prove early on in camp. He really dominated hitters."
Since the day he made the Opening Day roster, Pestano has allowed 10 runs on 11 hits in four innings (two innings in Cactus League play and two in the regular season). Entering Saturday, Pestano was averaging 89.4 mph with his fastball. Last April, he averaged 92.8 mph on his heater.
"His stuff has been a little flatter," Francona said. "I think you see him sometimes trying to generate some movement. That's why he yanked that ball to the backstop [on Saturday]. Maybe trying to make it move instead of let it move. We're trying to balance getting outs from who we have in our bullpen and guys getting better moving forward. Sometimes that's a hard thing to match up."
Francona said pitch speed is not the top priority for Pestano right now.
"I don't want to get too caught up in velocity," Francona said, "because then everyone is going to say, 'The gun said this.' I don't think that's the end-all. Hitters will let you know. I do think he's trying to figure out where he's at right now and where it's going to go. I think he feels really healthy. That's good."
Pestano, who excelled as Cleveland's setup man in the 2011-12 seasons, noted that he did indeed feel strong during Saturday's outing against the Twins.
"I felt really good," Pestano said, "which is probably the most discouraging thing, because you feel the best you've felt in a while, but results not there."