This trip to Johnstown is going to be very different for Jonathan Pineiro.
The former Bishop Ford and Long Island University baseball standout has played for the Brooklyn-based Bonnie Rams’ college all-star team three times in the All-American Amateur Baseball Association tournament in Pennsylvania, which this year starts on August 10. He will be in uniform again as the team heads down for the third time in four years — but this time he’ll will be in the coaching box instead of at shortstop.
“I think it is going to be the toughest when I first get there,” Pineiro said “I’ll have it in my mind I’m coaching, but when I get there, when the games start, the itch to be on the field, I’m gong to want to really be out there, but I fully accept my role coaching.”
It has been a seamless transition so far. The 22-year Pineiro, just a year removed from playing, became a player coach with the Bonnies two years ago. He was also an assistant coach at Abraham Lincoln last spring as the Railsplitters went 18–2 and reached the Public School Athletic League Class AA semifinals.
The Bonnie Rams won 30 games this summer with him as top assistant to longtime manager Jerry Katzke, and bested rival Youth Services to head back to Johnstown, Pa.
“He brings a lot of enthusiasm,” Katzke said. “He brings good knowledge of the game. He also bring good knowledge of how the team operates because we have a lot of good players from one year to the next.”
Pineiro was told growing up that he’d make a good coach and had natural instincts for the game. Other players would often come to him for advice on improving even when he was still on the team with them. Because of his age, many umpires believe he still is.
“We go to some games and some people see me, even at PSAL games and they go, ‘Oh you need to get in the dugout.” I’m like, ‘I’m the coach,’ ” said Pineiro, who aspires to coach in college one day.
The trust he has developed in his own abilities translates to the players. Pineiro coaches third, runs the team’s pregame preparation, and handles much of its strength and conditioning training. There are some challenges disciplining players because the closeness in age, but even those who know him well don’t mind him getting on them.
“I like hearing it from him more than Jerry,” said second baseman Johnny Faison. “He knows when to get serious. I don’t mind him screaming at us. He is young, but he knows the game.”
Faison is one of the leaders of a deep Bonnie Rams team that is looking to improve on its seventh-place finish out of 16 teams from two years ago. He and cleanup hitter James Smith make up a powerful middle of the order. The Bonnie Rams leaned heavily on its pitching this season, led by former Erasmus Hall quarterback Matt Domina. Bryan Dejesus and Brian McRedmond have also been big contributors on the mound. The group plans on make a run.
“Our goal is to stay there a while and whatever happens, happens,” Smith said.
Pineiro loves what has transpired since he went into coaching and can’t wait to see what is next.
“It’s a big step for me,” Pineiro said. “I certainly love it. I love baseball. I love being around it.”