Updates and thoughts on Pineda’s injury

Photo courtesy of the NY Daily News

Twitter and the interwebs seemed to explode last night after Michael Pineda’s poor start and subsequent admission of “soreness” in the back of his shoulder. This all but ends the Spring Training battle for the 5th starter’s spot in the rotation, due both to his abysmal performance last night (with Brian Cashman and Billy Eppler in attendance) and the post game ‘injury diagnosis’.  With that in mind, I want to use this post to get you guys and gals up to date on the latest info, and weigh in with some of my own thoughts and reactions to what transpired last night both on the field and in the clubhouse. First up is a tweet the Yankee beat reporter from the New York Daily News:

Mark Feinsand

Girardi, on Pineda saying he tried to throw harder tonight: “That’s the danger of people always talking about it, that you get concerned, and that could’ve been why his mechanics were a little bit out of whack”

This was obvious to many of us watching the game, not the least of which was David Cone who was broadcasting on YES. He was flying open all night, which makes the FB cut in ways you don’t want and explains his lack of control. It’s something we saw for the past three years from AJ Burnett when he had men on base and tried to pitch from the stretch. We also found out here why Pineda looked as bad as he did. Knowing that he was pitching for his spot in the rotation, he made the rookie mistake of trying too hard, which doesn’t work in a precision/skill game like baseball. Next we have this nugget from Sweeney Murti:

Sweeny Murti@YankeesWFAN

Pineda was asked several times if his arm was ok before admitting soreness. Said it was “normal” but that’s not a good area to point to.

The fact that he had to be prodded tells me two things. One, that Pineda didn’t think the situation was all that serious or out of the ordinary, and two that the Yankees didn’t like what they saw on the mound last night one bit. Players will often alter their mechanics when they’re injured or out of shape, which Cone referred to on the broadcast numerous times. Every pitcher has soreness after an outing, but it appears he strained something by altering his normal mechanics. It’s also important to distinguish between ‘soreness’ and ‘pain’. Pain is typically a word you hear before someone gets sent to Dr Andrews, ‘soreness’ is in most cases less serious. Of course, we should wait for the results of the MRI before passing any judgement, but looking at the info available to us now it doesn’t sound like anything worth panicking over. Given the way he pitched last night, this gives the Yanks an excuse to let him reset the clock, get himself in the kind of shape they wanted him to be in when he reported to camp, and work on his velocity and change up in AAA. With the way he pitched last night, the Yanks may have been looking for an excuse to do just that.

Mark Feinsand

Another Cashman on Pineda: “We’ve asked the question because of the velocity, how do you feel physically? He’s always felt fine. The answer has always been good. In terms of his mechanics, everything else like that, the only thing that has obviously been a red flag has been the velocity.”

For those of you who were unconcerned about Pineda’s velocity before last night, it’s worth noting the GM didn’t feel the same way. After what happened with Phil Hughes last year and Chien Ming Wang in 2009, both of whom showed diminished velocity in camp that led to disastrous April performances and subsequent injury diagnosis, to be unconcerned is to ignore the recent past. Some folks chalk these stories up to anti-Yankee bias, don’t like the reporters who are pushing them, or think it’s just an annual meme that fills up space during slow news days in camp. For the 3rd time in the past 4 years, that take has proven to be wrong.

Finally, there’s a lot of sentiment out there that Pineda was damaged goods before he was sent here.

Sweeny Murti@YankeesWFAN

I already see the “damaged goods” tweets, but need to see what the tests show…and remember, they gave full physical before the trade

Defeating the Damaged Goods Theory–Pineda’s pre-trade physical did include a shoulder MRI.

 It’s also worth noting that his innings went from 139.1 in 2010 to 171 in 2011, which is manageable and right around the 30-40 inning jump that most teams subscribe to for pitchers under 25 years old. His velocity was consistent throughout last year except for his final game, an emergency start that lasted 4 innings coming off 11 days rest. MRIs can miss things, as we saw last year with Pedro Feliciano. But if Michael Pineda never rediscovers his missing velocity, it will not be because the Yanks were asleep at the switch when they made this deal. Anyone who knows anything about how the team operates knows that they leave no stone unturned.

20 thoughts on “Updates and thoughts on Pineda’s injury

  1. bpdelia

    ,I literally cannot in good conscience post what myACTUAL comment was to this. To be honest the lack of any concern, especially at RAB, was annoying. That being said it is quite common for hard throwers to see a significant vel decrease in their second years. Im thinking verlander and greinke and a bit less lincecum. I think pineda has the slider and command to get through this year effective but it seems lots of these guys let the foot off the gas after first success. I think he will be fine and i expected a step back year followed by a great year next year.

    The real story here is the kind of blogodphere echo chamber that develops as an over reactio to irrational fans. It was CLEARLY disturbing. Even with his peripherals and slider if pineda pitched last yr at 89-91 there is no freaking way montero is traded for him. Hell if this was his starting vel he would have been no better than a top 75 prospect. Its the command vrlocity slider COMBO that makes him salivatingly tantalyzing.

    It will be fine but he wont throw 97 this year. After build up he will be 92 94 and next year we will see the real pineda

    • Fair enough. It’s hard to know whether Pineda was hurting all spring or just in his most recent outing, because that potentially matters for how his velocity drop should be viewed. I think much of the overreaction from the “velocity skeptics” is because of all the “Pineda to AAA” speculation from professional pot-stirrer Andrew Marchand.

      • SER

        Agree with you. I still dont think it was hurting all ST. I think he just had a tired arm, led to some poor mechanics and caused his shoulder to start hurting. I’m not sure if he would have had any shoulder issues if the Yankees didnt make such a big deal out of him needing to win a spot and how important that start was. He felt he had to impress and went out and overthrew with bad results.
        This doesnt seem to be a Phil Hughes type of issue as he was pretty effective up until yesterday. His fastball was a few mph low, but his secondary stuff was nasty. With a couple weeks off, and few rehab games, he could very well be just fine. Not 97-98 fine, but good enough to be an effective pitcher until that comes back. As he was before the Yankees basically forced him to overthrow or loose his job.

      • bpdelia

        Absolutely. I didnt worry at first but four starts in i got a bit nervous. Big difference is pineda can be successful at 92 93. Hes not where he wll be next year. And yhe media coverage was over the top DOOOOOOOM!!!! butthere was a way to be reasojable and be concerned

    • smurfy

      I agree with Bpdelia, above, except the “let up the gas” in the second year. Throwing 8 innings is probably akin to going 8 rounds. Do that 30 times in six months, and your arm gets worn out. Takes time to recover.

      Pineda will recover his velocity, but “trying harder” doesn’t do it, it just screws up smooth mechanics.

    • You mention his decrease in velocity as if the Yankees didn’t think about that. Like they thought he’d throw in the mid to upper 90s for the rest of his career.

      The fact he’s been able to get a lot out of his slider, as well as develop a good changeup already, shows what the Yankees know… that this guy is a hell of a lot more than a big buy with a big arm.

      I’d rather have a starter that can throw 4+ good/great pitches, rather than a starter that can throw 98+ but with decent-at-best other pitches.

  2. SER

    Man, I always thought most of the risk was on the Yankees side when they made this trade. A young pitcher staying healthy is just such a risky proposition. Lets hope this is just some fatigue from the innings increase, and performance exertion from last year, and he will be fine in a month or 2.
    He did have a similar shoulder issue that shut him down for a couple months in the minors a few years back, I don’t know about you guys but 2 of those type of things would seem to be worrisome for a looming larger issue.

  3. SER

    Bah, I should have looked it up before posting. It was elbow issues in that caused him to miss time in 09.

  4. In other news Dante Bichette Jr just hit a homrun off this guy in today’s Spring Training game.

  5. A person at another site said this is a good thing, as it will slow him down and allow the team to develop him slowly instead of him trying to force things. I agree with that. No reason for him to try and hurry back and possibly aggravate the injury into something serious.

  6. oldpep

    I disagree with the recurring ‘this isn’t a bad thing’ mantra. It’s very possible this is a very bad thing. There’s an old saying in baseball that applies here: ‘young pitchers will break your heart’. It’s why so many people were against this trade from the start.
    I think his poor second half, his decreased velocity, and now this raise serious red flags.
    Just last year, Cashman signed a guy with lots of red flags. The blogosphere said it was a great move. Meanwhile one of the owners signed another RP and got lambasted here and elsewhere. The end result is that Cashman’s move was a mistake-paying 2 years for a guy who’ll never pitch in NY. Meanwhile Soriano is a productive (and healthy) part of the BP.
    The hope is that he’s healthy enough to contribute something sooner or later, though that’s anything but a given. Dismissing the Yankee fans that are concerned about all of this as being stupid or reactionary doesn’t make them (us) wrong. We’ve been down this road before. (Pavano Wright, a bunch of RPs, etc.)

    • An old saying, huh? Never heard it. I guess the Yankees should only sign or trade for “old” pitchers, since “young” ones will break your heart.

      BTW, people were upset over the contract Soriano was given, not that they Yankees signed him. Particularly the opt-out clauses, that very few expect him to exercise.

      There are reasons for being pessimistic about Pineda’s injury… no doubt. But you can’t tell me that some people aren’t being that way irrationally.

      • oldpep

        No. There were posts here and elsewhere that signing him at all was a bad idea. That the owners should leave signing guys to Cashman. No matter that he has a history of signing and trading for pitchers that come nowhere near what they’re supposed to be. Weaver, Vazquez twice, the folks I mentioned before, and others. He also has a history of trying to trade Montero.

        to Bryan V: just because you haven’t heard of something doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. I never implied we should never get young pitchers. I do believe trading The Jesus for one was a stupid move.

    • SER

      His periferals were the same in the second half as the first half, the only thing that was off was his ERA. His velocity remained the same throughout the season except for his last start, which was an emergency start on 11 days rest and only went 4 innings.

  7. YankeesJunkie

    Pitchers get injured, that is just a fact. Hopefully, Pineda can build up his strength and get everything sorted out and can come back looking more like he did last year. However, it is concerning that a pitching regime over the winter would be not to throw. I am not saying someone should be pitching at 100% anytime in the winter, but maybe doing some long toss for 10 minutes a day would keep the arm loose and not do any actual harm since you would be throwing it 50%.

    • I always wondered about that too. Why completely “shut down” in the offseason? It seems like staying loose, as you suggest, would be ideal.

      • Thats the nature of tendinitis. You have to leave the area alone for the inflammation and possible tendon damage to repair. Even working out the shoulder once every week will reactivate the soreness and you’ll be back to square one. The less movement in the shoulder, the better.

        What Pineda should do, and most likely will, is continue to do cardio, while working out his legs and core to help build up velocity.

  8. gstar

    cesar cabral has a stress gracture and will be on the dl. When the season starts and since he is on the DL, does that mean the Yankees still have Cabral and Rapada on the team? When he gets off the DL, must the Yankees have both on the roster or will lose 1 or the other? Anyone knows. Cabral can be an asset in years to come.

  9. T.O. Chris

    If they take Rapada with them and put Cabral on the DL, yes they keep both. It just takes up two 40 man spots, so if one is needed Cabral to the 60 or Rapada being DFA’d are the first likely options.

  10. bpdelia

    Ill be honest I’ve watched him closely and he looks like he is gonna be pretty damn good. The slider is fantastic, the change looks good, seemed like he threw a fairly effective slurvy show me curve. At 9/ to 92 he will be good. When he gets back to 95 he will be the best young pitcher ive ever seen for the yanks. I was,little for guidrys first two years and ragd never pit,it all together and then got joba’d.

    Im concerned but psyched. Since gooden burst on the scene i’ve lusted after a great YOUNG fire balling sp. I still think it works out….uness Montero is merely a well below average catcher and not the unplayable mess he has looked like. If that happens winning the trade will require campos and pineda to both be 3.5 win pitchers for five years.

    Still optimistic.

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