In what has been a very diligent and detail-orientated process, young right-hander Michael Pineda has been slowly progressing from major shoulder surgery in 2012. In the past couple of weeks, Pineda has advanced from throwing on a flat surface to throwing off of a half mound. Now, Erik Boland of Newsday has received word from pitching coach Larry Rothschild that the next step could be right around the corner.
Rothschild has indicated no issues or cause for concern in the advancement to a half mound, which in turn could lead to Pineda progressing to a full mound toss as soon as next week.
While speculation has been rampant about the Yankees giving up catching prospect Jesus Montero for Pineda, the fact remains that Pineda is very young, and he can still rebound from this latest un-lucky streak of shoulder problems.
The 24-year-old Pineda, who dazzled Mariners fans in 2011 with a high 90's fastball and a devastatingly hard slider, finished fifth in American League Rookie of the Year voting and was impressive enough to garner an invitation to the 2011 All-Star game.
Upon arriving in camp following the aforementioned offseason trade to the Yankees, an eye-opening lack of velocity and overall struggle led to the discovery of tendonitis in his throwing shoulder. As he rehabilitated from that, a significant tear in his right shoulder would further amplify problems and would eventually lead to said surgery which ended his 2012 season before he ever stepped on the mound in the Bronx.
The organization hopes to see Pineda up with the Major League club by some point after mid-season. Furthermore, his presence would give manager Joe Girardi another interesting option to give the ball too, especially in the event the number five spot in the rotation falters.
The only reason we're skeptical of pronouncing his presence a "sure thing" to Girardi is it's hard to speculate if he will be able to get his velocity back to 2011 levels. Needless to say, watching his progress will be one of the major storylines of 2013 for the Yankees.
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