Michael Pineda followed Felix Hernandez on Monday in Phoenix. It might not be long before he's doing the same thing in Seattle's rotation.
Pineda allowed a hit and struck out one in two scoreless innings as the Mariners defeated the Oakland Athletics, 6-3.
Pineda surrendered a two-out single to Kevin Kouzmanoff in the fifth inning, the first hit the right-hander has allowed this spring. After walking Jai Miller, Pineda recovered to get Matt Carson to fly out to left field to end his outing. The 22-year-old struck out former World Series MVP Hideki Matsui on three pitches earlier in the frame.
"You learn from every different hitter," Pineda told MLB.com. "You learn a little bit more, a little bit more."
The right-hander credited the starting pitcher for creating some room from him when he entered the game.
"The pitcher who follows Felix, I think it's a little difficult, you know, because he's nasty," Pineda told MLB.com.
Hernandez, in turn, has been impressed by the up-and-comer.
"He's got pretty good stuff," Hernandez told MLB.com. "I don't have to tell nothing to that guy. He's unbelievable."
Pineda, who enters the season as MLB.com's No. 13 prospect, was perfect in his spring debut March 2 against the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Dominican-born pitcher opened eyes in 2010, going 11-4 with a 3.36 ERA in 25 starts between Double-A West Tenn and Triple-A Tacoma. Pineda struck out 154 batters in 139 1/3 innings and held Minor League batters to a .227 average. It was a strong season for a pitcher whose 2009 season ended after only 47 1/3 innings due to an elbow injury.
Recently acquired Aaron Laffey allowed a hit in a scoreless inning of relief and Josh Lueke struck out one in two shutout frames. Alex Liddi was 1-for-2 after replacing Chone Figgins in the fifth.
Fautino De Los Santos allowed two runs over one inning for the Athletics, while former first-rounder Grant Green was 1-for-4. Josh Donaldson doubled and scored after batting for Matsui in the sixth.