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Hot Stone League

Larry Stone gives his take on a wide array of baseball issues and weighs in about the Mariners, too.

March 31, 2012 at 10:52 AM

Hard times for Michael Pineda with Yankees

pinedaspring.jpg

(Photo by Associated Press)

On the same day that one former Mariners pitcher, Jamie Moyer, was being lauded for cracking the Rockies rotation at age 49, another, Michael Pineda, was in near tears after another rocky spring outing for the Yankees.

It had already been a trying spring for Pineda, who reported to camp about 20 pounds overweight, and had alarmingly low velocity numbers in his Grapefruit League starts. But the low point came Friday when Pineda was shelled by the Phillies for six runs and seven hits in 2 2/3 innings, after which he reported shoulder tightness. Today, an MRI revealed tendinitis, and Pineda was put on the 15-day DL.

Not surprisingly, Pineda is under growing heat in New York, where the trade with the Mariners was initially greeted enthusiastically — as another star the Yankees stole from Seattle. This piece by New York Post columnist Kevn Kernan is indicative. Kernan writes, “Now you must wonder if he will ever again be the pitcher he was for the Mariners during the first half of last season, the pitcher the Yankees thought they were getting when they traded Jesus Montero to Seattle.”

I think it’s a little early to write off Pineda. Pitchers get sore arms all the time, rest, and come back fine. The fact it is his shoulder is ominous (they are notoriously more troublesome, long-term, than elbows), but as long as nothing is torn, there’s no reason to think this will de-rail the career of a 23-year-old pitcher.

It should be noted, because people are asking, that Pineda underwent a physical exam with the Yankees at the time of the trade, including an MRI of his shoulder (and elbow), and the Yankees signed off on him. So there should be no talk of the Mariners sending “damaged goods” to New York. There were warning signs, however — Pineda’s dropoff in the second half, and his inclusion in the “Verducci Effect” range as far as increase in innings pitched. Pineda didn’t do himself any favors by apparently not doing much throwing — or working out at all — in the offseason.

I wrote last week that it may take years to determine who “won” the Yankees-Mariners trade, and I still believe that. But Pineda is certainly not off to a great start with the Yankees.

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