Devastating news today for Michael Pineda, and the Yankees: he has a labrum tear in his right shoulder and will undergo arthroscopic surgery on Tuesday.
Yankees GM Brian Cashman — who acquired Pineda from the Yankees on Jan. 20 — told reporters it will take 12 months for Pineda to recover from the injury. That wipes out 2012, of course. After that, it’s anyone’s guess. It’s pretty well established in baseball that shoulder injuries are much, much more problematic than elbow injuries. I addressed that issue in this blog post, after Erik Bedard underwent surgery for a torn labrum. I think Bedard’s recovery should give some hope to Pineda, though whether he’ll ever been the devastating pitcher he was before is a legitimate question. Here’s an even more in-depth piece I did on recovering from torn labrums, with five case studies. It’s sobering, but there are some beacons of hope, most notably Chris Carpenter, won by a Cy Young after labrum surgery.
I’ve already seen someone tweet that this is great news for the Mariners. I think that’s a cynical way to look at it. Jack Zduriencik said at the time of the trade he wished Pineda well, and I believe he was sincere. For the Mariners, this deal will make or break on how Jesus Montero and, to a lesser extent, Hector Noesi, perform. I don’t think Pineda going down is a high-five moment, in any way — but, then again, that may be how some fans are reacting. Having gotten to know Pineda a little, and finding him to be a likable young man, I feel badly for him, and I suspect most fans, even Mariner fans, do as well.
As for any Mariners culpability in sending “damaged good,” as I’ve seen suggested (mainly by disenchanted Yankee fans), it’s just not the case. Pineda underwent, and passed, a full Yankees physical prior to the trade, which included a shoulder exam. Cashman just told New York reporters that Pineda was “fully healthy’ at the time of the deal. The shoulder injury he developed is just an unfortunate break for the Yankees — but one of the risks of acquiring any pitcher.