Michael Pineda has been given the go ahead to advance to what the organization and their fans hope will be the final stage in a long recovery process. The 24-year old righty, who hasn’t appeared in a game since 2011, is set to begin a 30-day rehab assignment starting Saturday with the Tampa Yankees, according to Dan Martin and Brian Lewis of the NY Post.
Pineda threw 65 pitches without issue in an extended spring game yesterday. The cracked nail he suffered last week seems to have fully healed, and so has his surgically repaired shoulder – throughout his extended spring games, Pineda has averaged 93 mph with his fastball, even reaching 95.
The Yankees plan to use the entire 30 days for Pineda, giving him about five or six starts. At the conclusion of his rehab (likely on or around July 7), the team then has to decide if they want to bring him up to the big league club or send him to Triple-A for more refinement. If they send him to Triple-A for two weeks, they can delay his eligibility for free agency by a year – getting back the missed season of 2012, arbitration-wise.
Regardless, should Pineda have no setbacks during his rehab assignment, expect the big right-hander to contribute during the second half of the season. In what capacity, we’re not quite sure yet – it all depends on which starters are healthy and performing well when he comes back.
*Jesus Montero, who was traded for Pineda, was sent down to Triple-A Tacoma last month. He recently underwent surgery for a torn meniscus in his knee, and will be out for up to six weeks.