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:
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:
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.
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.
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.