Pestano Becomes Grizzled Rookie In Cleveland





CLEVELAND—Reliever Vinnie Pestano was the only rookie on the Indians 25-man roster on Opening Day, but the righthander was hardly the youngest.

"It's odd because I'm a rookie and yet (at 26) I'm older than some of my teammates," Pestano said. "But there's a lot more guys in here with more big league experience than I have."

Pestano's career got off to a slow start as a 20th-round pick in 2006. In May of his junior season at Cal State Fullerton, Pestano injured his right elbow and had Tommy John surgery not long after being drafted. Once healthy, Pestano racked up 71 saves and a 2.55 ERA in four minor league seasons.

Last season, Pestano made three stops between Double-A Akron, Triple-A Columbus and Cleveland. Holding a cumulative 1.81 ERA with 17 saves between the Aeros and Clippers, Pestano arrived in Cleveland on Sept. 23 to make his major league debut against the Royals. Three nights later, Pestano earned his first big league save. He yielded one hit in three innings with the Tribe.

"He showed some grit here last year when he came up," Tribe manager Manny Acta said. "I look at him as a very important part of our bullpen."

When Pestano's whirlwind season came to an end last year, he was called into Acta's office and told he had a legitimate shot to make the Opening Day roster next season.

Six and a half months later, Pestano made good on that offer thanks to a spring training performance in which he held a 1.13 ERA in eight innings and had a 12-to-2 strikeout-to-walk ratio. It helped when Jensen Lewis was outrighted to Columbus and Joe Smith was sidelined with a strained abdominal muscle.

"It'll be an interesting year for him because he's a couple years removed from surgery," Acta said. "At this level, we're not going to be able to accommodate him as much as they did in the minor leagues. So we put him to the test the last week of the spring training and he responded well."

SMOKE SIGNALS

• The Indians acquired 28-year-old outfielder Bubba Bell from the Red Sox for cash considerations and assigned him to Triple-A Columbus.

• High Class A Kinston lefthander Drew Pomeranz, the fifth overall pick in 2010, struck out nine in 5 1⁄3 scoreless innings in his big league debut.