After he finished his rehab assignment, the New York Yankees optioned starting pitcher Michael Pineda to Triple-A to continue building arm strength. So, then, why did Double-A Trenton Thunder fans see Pineda throwing in their bullpen on Monday? The answer is simple according to New Jersey.com's Andy McCullough: to continue his throwing program, nothing more.
The Scranton Wilkes-Barre RailRiders were off for the Triple-A All-Star break, and the Yankees wanted to keep Pineda on his current throwing schedule. Pineda worked with Trenton in the bullpen only, but he will not appear in any games. Trenton manager Tony Franklin agrees with the decision:
“I think it’s important. I know it doesn’t sound like it is. But guys get on a regular regimen and routine, and we like to keep them on that. Particularly when they’re coming back from injury.”
Pineda is coming back from Tommy John surgery that kept him out for all of 2012 and throughout 2013 so far. The Yankees acquired him from Seattle for catching prospect Jesus Montero after Pineda's stellar 2011 rookie season, in which he was 9-10 with a 3.74 ERA and 1.10 WHIP. He is now 2-1, 4.43 ERA, in 27 innings in six Minor League games as he works his way back to the Majors. He has life on his fastball, striking out 27 hitters, but he still needs to work on control (11 walks).
The Yankees' rotation is fifth in the American League in ERA, but Pineda could help spot start should he get a chance this year. At least, he could land a spot next year that pending free agent Phil Hughes might leave should he walk, or Pineda could find himself in the rotation soon should the Yankees trade Hughes as rumored.
The Yankees are in fourth place in the A.L. East, six games out. They will come out of the All-Star break with a three-game series in Fenway Park and a chance to gain ground on the division-leading Red Sox.
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