There has been a lot of injury updates recently, some good and some bad, but they’ve mostly been focused on the Yankees bats — Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira, Curtis Granderson, and even occasionally Alex Rodriguez.
One of the bigger names on the DL that is quietly working his way back is Michael Pineda, who is recovering from shoulder surgery.
Shoulder surgery is typically a big deal for pitchers and can often be career threatening. Setbacks are typically the norm during rehab, but Pineda has been progressing nicely throughout the entire process. In recent weeks he’s been throwing batting practice and sometime within the next week he’s going to throw a simulated game.
That’s about as big a step as there gets because if he can successfully do that then he can start to stretch himself out to get ready for pitching in actual major league games. Without any setbacks, he could be in the rotation by June and it sounds like he’s confident he’ll be 100 percent and the Yankees are counting on him.
“I’m going to be back and I’m going to be 100 percent,” Pineda told Dan Martin of the NY Post. “My arm is feeling good and I’m the same pitcher I was before.”
I’m still nervous about Pineda and I hate to get my hopes up only to have his surgically repaired shoulder do what surgically repaired shoulders tend to do. He’s done well in rehab though, by all accounts he’s turned his attitude around, and his conditioning has been much improved since he showed up to camp out of shape last year.
The Yankees have even changed their tune. Gone are the days when they talked about getting anything at all from him this season as being a bonus to Mark Newman talking about how they are counting on him. It’s a minor thing, but if they’re expectations have improved it should be seen as a good sign.
If he can get back and contribute it would be a big lift for the Yankees. Their lineup has not been nearly as bad as most expected, but the back end of the rotation has left something to be desired as Phil Hughes, Ivan Nova, and even the sixth starter, David Phelps, have all struggled. If Pineda can get back to this team sometime within the next two months and compete at a high level that could go a long way toward taking the division title.
Like I said though, I’ll continue to try to temper my expectations. For my own sanity, I’d rather root for Hughes to build off his last start and Nova to somehow find that pitcher we saw in 2011 than hope for a pitcher coming off shoulder surgery to be the savior of this team.
Still, Pineda is set to throw in a simulated game and his own Spring Training is not far behind.
• Brian Cashman reiterated this offseason that the Yankees will go with Eduardo Nunez and Jayson Nix to fill in during Derek Jeter’s absence and will not look to make a trade. Nunez is hitting .175/.271/.200 and Nix .212/.250/.303 so far this year.
• Kevin Youkilis has been dealing with a stiff lower back and left mid-game on Saturday. It doesn’t sound series though and he just got some time off because of the turf.
• Curtis Granderson was cleared for light swinging which sounds like he’s taking normal hacks just with no ball. He has been throwing for a little more than a wee as he recovers from a broken forearm.