CLEVELAND -- Vinnie Pestano had been looking forward to Saturday's spring from the bullpen to the mound at Progressive Field. When called upon in the sixth inning to face the Mets, Pestano was welcomed back to the Tribe with a warm reception from the fans on hand.
"The crowd gave me some nice fanfare," Pestano said on Sunday morning. "That was the only positive thing to come out of my experience yesterday."
In his first appearance for the Indians since being demoted to Triple-A Columbus in late July, Pestano allowed a pair of run-scoring hits in Cleveland's 9-4 victory over New York. It was another disappointing episode in what has been a turbulent season for the Indians' former setup man.
Pestano endured a trip to the disabled list in May due to a right elbow injury and was sent to Columbus in July after command and velocity woes persisted. The right-hander went to Triple-A, focused on his mechanics, improved his physical condition and hoped the results would show once back on the big league stage for Cleveland.
In the sixth inning on Saturday, Justin Turner turned a fastball from Pestano into a two-run double, and Juan Lagares followed by pushing a breaking ball into right field for an RBI single. Cleveland had its five-run lead slashed to two runs, but went on to pull away from the Mets later in the ballgame.
"Whether he would admit it or not, I'm sure there was some added pressure," Indians bullpen coach Kevin Cash said. "I think you take the approach of, it's just two batters. He's going to get more opportunities to hopefully get him going a little bit."
Pestano, who has a 4.32 ERA in 35 appearances this season, had a different take on the situation.
"Two batters, you can't read too much into it -- I don't necessarily agree with that," Pestano said. "I've been battling all year. The minute I think I've got something figured out, I go out there and the results just aren't there. It's just getting really frustrating. I'm still the same pitcher in my head, but I'm just not throwing the same way like I'm used to.
"It's late, it's been a long year, DL, all that stuff. It's just been a really difficult year. A lot of guys in this clubhouse, and a lot of guys on our staff, they haven't seen me at my best. So it's tough to come in here sometimes and look guys in the eyes after you cash in their runs, and you're supposed to be the player that you are, and you're just not even playing up to half that capability.
"Last night, I didn't know where the bottom was. Another level just keeps opening up and I keep falling down. But, I keep standing up. I keep answering the bell. I'm not going to quit. I'm going to battle for every pitch I can."