I don't come to the field everyday just happy to be a baseball player. I want to be special. I want to dominate. I want to help whatever team I'm on win. —Vinnie Pestano
Vinnie Pestano grew up 10 minutes from Angels Stadium, and now the relief pitcher is on the cusp of emerging from its shadow and playing under its lights.
On Thursday, Pestano was traded from Cleveland to the Angels organization, and though he was immediately sent to Salt Lake, that's not where he plans on finishing the season.
"I don't come to the field everyday just happy to be a baseball player," Pestano said. "I want to be special. I want to dominate. I want to help whatever team I'm on win."
In 2011 and 2012, Pestano was doing just that, becoming one of the better middle relievers in all the American League. Pestano's performance earned him a spot on the U.S. team at the World Baseball Classic, where he aggravated an injury that led to a down season for the pitcher.
"It was a pre-existing injury," Pestano said. "I was hoping it wasn't going to be a problem, but towards the end of it, it started flaring up a little bit. It's one of those things that happened and you kind of have to learn from it and move forward."
Part of moving forward meant getting sent down to Cleveland's Triple-A affiliate Columbus, where Pestano tried to regain his mechanics. Pestano has an untraditional throwing motion that helps the right-hander create deception with his pitches. After the injury though, Pestano threw more traditionally, losing some of what made him so dominant.
"I throw from kind of a weird arm slot, I get some deceptions from smoke and mirrors," Pestano said. "It gets a lot of swings and misses from righties from my fast ball, which isn't overpowering by any means, it just comes out and looks a little different. I lost that a lot last year, and some of that came from trying to find an arm angle that didn't hurt to throw from."
Pestano has spent most of this season with Columbus and has used the time in the minors studying film and doing drills to regain what he had lost.
"This year because I got sent down so early I had a lot of time to go over a lot of video with (Columbus pitching coach) Tony Arnold and tried to get my mechanics back to where they used to be," Pestano said. "Through a lot of dry drills and video work, slowly things started clicking again, and I found myself in a little bit of a groove."
That "groove" is evidenced by his 1.78 ERA with Columbus this season. On Friday in his Bees debut, Pestano continued his trek back to the pitcher he once was, retiring all four batters he faced in Salt Lake's 6-5 loss.
"I take a lot of pride in (being trusted by his team) and my pride's been hurt for a little while, but I found myself in a good spot over the past two months," Pestano said.
He is hoping to find himself in an even better spot come September and October, out of the shadows and under the bright lights of Angels Stadium.
"I'm happy to be here," Pestano said. "I'm happy to get a fresh start and hopefully make the Angels look like they made a good decision to bring me over here."