Pinero a big ‘un at little guy’s position
*INF Daniel Pinero (Toronto, Ont.) is a tall man … at 6-foot-6 he’s still quick enough to play in the middle of the diamond ….
By Carlo Campo
St. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Very rarely will the tallest player on a baseball team be found playing in the infield.
At 6-foot-6, Daniel Pinero stands out in the sea of red jerseys that envelop the Canadian Junior National Team.
Height such as his is more common amongst pitchers, but the 17-year-old Toronto native is clearly well-suited for his position. Quick movement, great reach and power at the plate, combined with an ability to play as a shortstop or first baseman make Pinero an incredibly versatile infielder.
He attributes his versatility to the Ontario Blue Jays, the amateur baseball club where he currently plays.
“The coaches there taught me a lot,” Pinero said. “They taught me how to be a baseball player. They taught me all about baseball, fixing up my swing, and fielding.”
The infielder’s build is reminiscent of Richie Sexson, the 6-foot-8 first baseman who was a two-time All-Star in his time with the Milwaukee Brewers in the early 2000s. And the young Canadian is quick to point out that he’s heard the comparison before.
“Recently, one of my coaches compared me to Richie Sexson because of my stature,” Pinero said. “I guess I imitate him.”
Although the comparison is understandable, the native of Toronto says that the only player he models himself after is shortstop Derek Jeter.
“My favourite player is Jeter,” he said. “I always watch him. I always try to play like him.”
In conversation with Pinero, he makes it very clear that despite being deployed at first base and occasionally at the hot corner, shortstop is where he’s meant to be playing.
“I’ve been a shortstop all my life,” the junior national team member said. “There was an older kid in front me last year. He played shortstop and I played first or third just filling in the spots.”
At the 2011 Americas World Junior Qualification Tournament in Colombia, Pinero was named to the tournament’s All-Star team after helping Canada place second and qualify for this year’s World Junior Championship.
“I didn’t think I was going to do that well down there,” Pinero said. “It’s a good competition. Colombia’s a good team and so is the U.S. I just wanted to swing the bat the way I always swing the bat. I played with confidence and fielded well wherever I played.”
If Pinero was a threat at first base and at third base, he’ll be a force to contend with when he takes on his natural position at this year’s World Junior Championship.
“This year I’m going to be a shortstop. It’s the right spot for me.”