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Friday, February 12, 2016

Working too hard at baseball to play in his senior year

By Chris Mascaro

It was very ironic — the young man who seemingly never stopped playing baseball taking his senior season off at Iona Prep.

But Riverdale resident Christian Pimentel maintains he made the right decision. With a commitment to Ave Maria University — an NAIA-level Catholic college in southwest Florida in between Naples and Fort Myers — after his junior seiason, Pimentel decided to work on his body to get it ready for the next level rather than play for the Gaels.

“It was the toughest thing in the world because I love all my teammates,” Pimentel said. “I know I would’ve helped them. But there were going to be a lot of people on the team. Practice is what makes you a good player, and I wasn’t going to get my reps. I needed to work on my game and redefine myself.”

Pimentel, who will turn 19 next month, gained 10 pounds of muscle, going from 185 to 195, and hopes to play at 200 pounds for Ave Maria. 

He is a 6-foot-1 middle infielder who can also pitch, and has great speed on the bases, as he shaved his 60-yard dash time down to “6.5 or 6.6” from 6.8 by running sprints up hills. Pimentel, who projects himself as a leadoff hitter, said the time away from baseball was “like having two offseasons,” and he was able to get to the gym more often than usual.

A surprise

But when he told his college coaches he would not be playing for Iona Prep his senior year, it surprised them.

“It kind of caught us off-guard, but he was doing what he thought would help him at the next level,” said Ave Maria head coach Shawn Summe. “I don’t encourage recruits to do that. But he’s a tremendous athlete and a great kid with great character. Christian has the potential to be the centerpiece of our recruiting class.”

Pimentel began playing in the North Riverdale Baseball League when he was 5 and also played basketball at the YMCA. He began school ball as a freshman at Iona Prep.

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