Originally posted on Sliding Into Home  |  Last updated 3/14/12
According to George A. King III, it's definitely a possibility:
Paperwork might determine what the Yankees pitching rotation looks like, and it's not out of the question Michael Pineda could start the season at Triple-A.

Wednesday, for the second straight day, manager Joe Girardi mentioned minor league options and how they may factor into the four-arm competition for the three spots left after CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda.

"That's a possibility,'' Girardi said about a hurler being sent to the minors to start the season. "Some of the guys have options if that's what we need to do. But if it makes us a better team putting them in the bullpen we might do it.''

Phil Hughes has one option remaining, as does Ivan Nova, and Pineda has all three options left, so they can be sent out with fear of being lost. Hughes has 4 years and 113 days of service time. When he gets to five years (in 67 days) he can't be reassigned without permission.

Pineda makes his third exhibition start Thursday against the Nationals and the Yankees will be looking closely to see if the large right-hander's velocity starts to climb.
The article did go on to mention that options might not even be an issue because the guy who doesn't earn the rotation spot could always be added to the bullpen. But options aren't the entire story either.
When 23-year-old Pineda arrived in camp and admitted he was 10 pounds above the 270 he ended last season, the Yankees weren't too concerned because they really didn't know him. Now, they are staying the course when it comes to arm strength, an issue with Hughes last spring that led to a nightmare of a season and may have been the reason he missed significant time with an inflamed right shoulder.

"Some guys are a little bit slower coming along than others,'' Girardi said. "We haven't had him in spring training to really know how he is. We don't want him to conserve but we also want him to be ready to throw 95 to 96 when he is doing it. I don't want him going out there and just airing it out just so he can hit 95, 96 on the gun.''

Girardi is taking into account Pineda's age and one year of big league experience that consisted of a strong first half last season and a drop off in the second.

"You have to see how a guy does and how he responds,'' Girardi said. "This is not a kid who is 27 or 28 years old. Some of these springs are uncharted for him, too. As long as he is going in the right direction, that's the important thing for me.''
It's very early so I wouldn't make THAT much of this. Girardi is just covering all his bases, it's spring training, it's what he has to do.
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