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Monday, April 23, 2012

WHAT DOES THE PINEDA SETBACK MEAN FOR THE YANKEES?

Michael Pineda suffered a setback Saturday as he felt weakness in his shoulder during his rehab outing and we've been writing about it here all weekend at BYB. He was scheduled to pitch two innings, but he left after one inning and is shutdown. GM Brian Cashman is calling the tendinitis “mild” and Pineda will see team doctors on today for further re-evaluation. Read NOT SO FAST MICHAEL PINEDA for our initial report and WHY THE YANKEE ROTATION PUZZLE WILL BE SOLVED.

It’s a shame how these events have unfolded. It all started out when most, including myself, didn’t like the Jesus Montero for Michael Pineda swap to begin with, so the pressure was squarely on Pineda’s shoulders from the get-go. Then, he came into camp 15 lbs. overweight. Because of this, ESPN’s Buster Olney went as far as saying he looked “Five months pregnant” during camp. The drop in velocity from the start of spring training was another red flag in most people’s eyes, and the shoulder injury he suffered in his final spring start against the Phillies was the final nail in the coffin. Now add this recent setback and this could by very troubling for Pineda’s immediate future.
I’m not expecting much at all out of Pineda this year, to be honest. Shoulder injuries are the worst thing that can happen to a pitcher and Pineda’s 2012 could be in jeopardy because of it. We saw Phil Hughes go through a similar issue last year, however, but when he came back in mid-July we didn’t see the same Phil Hughes that won 18 games and made the All Star team in 2010. I hope I’m wrong, but I just don’t see Pineda making much of an impact on this year’s team.


Fortunately, the Yankees have a relatively deep rotation, so there’s no need to rush Pineda. They still have CC Sabathia, Ivan Nova, and Hiroki Kuroda, which I’m very confident in, personally, as a front three. For now Phil Hughes and Freddy Garcia are the back two, but after Freddy’s stinker in Fenway, and Hughes’ ability to bounce back after a rocky first inning against the Twins the other day, among other reasons, it looks like Hughes’ spot in the rotation is much safer than Freddy’s even when Andy Pettitte is ready to return. By no means is Hughes a lock to remain in the rotation even when Pettitte returns, though. Joe Girardi and co. could flip David Phelps and Phil Hughes’ roles if Hughes struggles. As for Freddy; he’ll likely be shifted to the bullpen or shipped out of town by the time Pettitte returns, though don’t be surprised if the latter outcome becomes reality. Casey has his predictions for the rotation come May and you should read it after you read this post today.

Again, I’m not expecting much from Pineda this year, though we’ve yet to hear further diagnosis, so I could be getting ahead of myself. But, if Pineda happens to come back later in the year and gives the Yankees anything positive, I’ll be pleasantly surprised. Here’s to hoping Pineda’s road to returning to the majors is a successful one, though it’ll be a long and challenging one.
 


--Jesse Schindler, BYB Lead Staff Writer
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@SchindlerJesse



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