Pestano secures place in Indians' bullpen
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Vinnie Pestano is not concerned about what his role will be within the bullpen this season for the Indians. On Saturday morning, the right-handed reliever was informed that he will be on the Opening Day roster.
After everything Pestano went through last season, that news is all that matters to him right now.
"I'm just worried about helping this team win," Pestano said. "It doesn't matter where I'm used or how I'm used. I just want to be effective and make sure whatever I'm doing is helping this team get better and win."
By adding Pestano the bullpen, Cleveland now has six spots accounted for, with closer John Axford, setup men Cody Allen and Bryan Shaw, and lefties Marc Rzepczynski and Josh Outman holding the other jobs. That leaves one or two jobs available with Scott Atchison, C.C. Lee, Blake Wood, Carlos Carrasco and Josh Tomlin still in camp as possibilities.
Pestano is no longer Cleveland's setup man, but he believes the makeup of the bullpen is strong heading into the season.
"I think it's great," Pestano said. "We've got a lot of different looks and a lot of different ways to get people out, a lot of different ways to match up with guys. We've got a lot of experience down in the back end of the bullpen now. ... You've got guys that can get outs in the eighth, and probably the ninth inning, pitching in the seventh inning. That's going to make this bullpen and this team that much better."
Last season, the 29-year-old Pestano turned in career worsts in ERA (4.08) and WHIP (1.64) in 37 appearances, and dealt with a stint on the disabled list (right elbow) and a demotion to Triple-A Columbus. This spring, Pestano showed up with a thinner build and more life on his pitches.
Heading into Saturday, Pestano had a 1.50 ERA with five strikeouts and two walks in six Cactus League appearances. It is a small sample size, but the right-hander has looked more like the pitcher who locked down the eighth inning for the team in the 2011 and '12 seasons.
"It's been great to see," Indians general manager Chris Antonetti said. "I think Vinnie was on a mission at the end of last offseason to begin working to get back to the pitcher we all saw for the better part of his career. He's come into camp in a really good spot from Day 1.
"The cut is back on his fastball. His slider has had good shape to it. He's commanding his pitches pretty well. It's been a really encouraging camp for Vinnie. He's been a big part of our success in the past, and we're looking forward to him contributing this year."
Pestano said he still has plenty left to do.
"I worked hard this spring," he said. "I worked hard in the offseason to get back to, hopefully, on the right track to where I was. There's still work to be done. Just because you're on the Opening Day roster doesn't mean -- obviously I found out last year -- you're going to be there down the stretch. I feel good with where I'm at. I'm getting stronger each outing."