New York Yankees: Michael Pineda

Pineda progressing toward return

July, 20, 2014
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NEW YORK -- Injured Yankees starter Michael Pineda is getting closer to starting his rehab assignment, manager Joe Girardi said.

Pineda, one of four Yankees’ starters penciled into the rotation at the beginning of the season who are injured, is expected to throw two sessions of live batting practice in the coming days. If all goes well, he will progress to throwing either simulated innings or innings against live hitters in rehab starts.

Pineda hasn’t pitched since April 23 due to a troublesome shoulder injury. The righty threw a bullpen session over the All Star break and didn’t have an issue.

Pineda is in the midst of an approximately six-week process to get back on the mound.

Beltran
Beltran
Beltran to throw soon: Carlos Beltran has been limited to DH duty for the Yankees because of a bone spur in his right elbow that causes soreness when he tries to throw. But Girardi said on Sunday that Beltran is expected to try to throw “soon.” So the veteran may be available for outfield duty in the near future, provided he doesn’t have any setbacks.

Joe marvels at Kuroda: That Hiroki Kuroda is the lone Yankees starter who was penciled into the rotation at the beginning of the season hasn’t been lost on Girardi.

“The last guy standing in a sense is the oldest guy,” Girardi said of the 39-year-old Kuroda. “It just tells you about how he prepares himself.”

Girardi was asked if he could see himself asking Kuroda to pitch more in the second half of the season due to the various injuries to the Yankees’ pitching staff.

“You can maybe push him a little bit more but I think you have to be cautious,” he said.

Pineda making progress in rehab

May, 25, 2014
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CHICAGO -- Michael Pineda will throw two innings in an extended spring training game on Tuesday as he tries to return to the Yankees at some point next month.

Pineda, out with an upper back strain, will need to build up to 75-to-85 mph, before he is ready to start again for the Yankees.

Girardi said that Pineda threw 28 pitches to batters on Saturday and had no setbacks. Girardi added Pineda will go up to around 35 pitches on Tuesday.

The Yankees were watching Pineda's innings and, if he hadn't gotten hurt, they may have done some version of the "Joba Rules." Pineda hasn't pitched since April 23, a slightly memorable night, so the need for "Pineda Principles" appears diminished.

"We never set a limit on innings," Girardi said. "It is more of how he is doing and watching his stuff. He has missed a substantial period of time that you think that he would probably be able to go out the rest of the year."

Notes: Alfonso Soriano is playing the outfield over DH Ichiro Suzuki mostly because Soriano likes to play the outfield, Girardi said. He also said it is a way to keep Ichiro fresh. ... Carlos Beltran (bone spurs in elbow) will take "dry swings" on Monday to begin testing his elbow. If things don't go right, he will have surgery. ... Shawn Kelley (back) will play catch on Monday to try to begin his return. ... Francisco Cervelli (hamstring) is running bases. Cervelli is eligible to come of the DL in mid-June. Since he is out of minor league options, the Yankees will have a decision to make with John Ryan Murphy and Cervelli. Murphy has played very well as Brian McCann's backup.
Michael Pineda is starting for the Yankees in Wednesday's nightcap.

Who should be given full credit for his comeback? ESPN New York, of course.

From Jorge Arangure Jr.'s story in the New York Times.

But Pineda said he soon found salvation in an ESPN article a coach brought to his attention. In the article, the former standout pitcher Curt Schilling, who had undergone shoulder surgery in 1995, was quoted as saying that he believed Pineda would recover and be a star again. The article was in English, so Pineda couldn’t read it, but he soon found himself asking friends, teammates and coaches to read it to him over and over again.

“I always had Curt Schilling on my mind,” Pineda said of the article. “I then started to look for as much information about his situation as possible, and to learn everything about him. And that brought me comfort and happiness. I thought about him all the time. And it showed me that my situation was not hopeless but that I just needed to work hard to get back.”


Here is the original story in which yours truly interviewed Schilling.

Pineda exudes excitement for Sawx start

April, 10, 2014
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NEW YORK -- Michael Pineda doesn't even try to hide his excitement.

Why should he? The guy missed two full seasons with shoulder trouble. Now he's back pitching, he's coming off a strong first game, and he's about to make his Yankee Stadium debut in the season's first game against the Red Sox.

Why shouldn't he enjoy it?

[+] EnlargeMichael Pineda
AP Photo/The Canadian Press/Peter PowerMichael Pineda hopes Saturday's success transfers to Thursday's start against the rival Red Sox.
"Yeah, it's a big deal," said Pineda, who opens the 2014 edition of the rivalry Thursday night. "I'm so happy."

Don't expect Jacoby Ellsbury to say anything so direct, but this weekend's series matters just a small bit to him too. He's not the first player to switch sides in Yankees-Red Sox rivalry, but he is the most recent -- and he got $153 million to switch.

"It's my first time playing them, and I'm looking forward to it," Ellsbury said. "I'm going to try to treat it like any other game, but it'll be memorable."

Ellsbury's presence in pinstripes should give this weekend's series a little buzz boost, as does the Red Sox's status as defending World Series champs and the Yankees' winter of spending in an attempt to catch up.

As Yankees manager Joe Girardi said Wednesday, Ellsbury's first trip back to Fenway Park (on April 22) figures to be more emotional. Ellsbury played his first seven seasons with the Red Sox, and while he helped them win two World Series, the Boston fans aren't likely to be thrilled with his move to the Bronx.

"He'll have a whole lot more people that are happy that he's here [this weekend] than when we go there," Girardi said.

Ellsbury had a .778 OPS in rivalry games when he played for the Red Sox, not much different from his overall numbers.

"He was a guy that gave us trouble, and when he was on base, he gave you even more trouble," Girardi said. "I used to look across the field and think, 'This is a guy that could change the game in a lot of ways.'"

The Yankees won just six of 19 meetings with the Red Sox last year, which fairly represented the way the two teams' seasons went. The Yankees missed the playoffs for just the second time since the 1994 strike, which led to the winter makeover.

Ellsbury was a big part of it, but Carlos Beltran and Brian McCann will also be playing the Red Sox for the first time as Yankees.

So will Pineda, technically a Yankee since a January 2012 trade with the Mariners but now finally healthy and able to pitch.

Pineda pitched well in his debut Saturday in Toronto, allowing one run in six innings in a game the Yankees lost 4-0. That game, plus Pineda's strong spring, gave the Yankees some confidence that Pineda can be the sometimes-dominating pitcher the Yankees thought they were trading for.

"Just continue what he's been doing," Girardi said. "Don't try to do too much. Don't get caught up in the moment."

Pineda may or may not try to do too much, but he will get caught up in the moment.

For a guy who missed two years and is thrilled just to be pitching, there's nothing wrong with that.

Pineda's success a feel-good story

March, 25, 2014
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Michael PinedaKim Klement/USA TODAY SportsMichael Pineda has resurrected his career through perseverance and a more mature approach.
TAMPA, Fla. -- Michael Pineda's command of the English language is not as good as his command of his slider, but the 6-foot-7, 25-year-old right-hander had no trouble making himself understood when expressing his emotions upon learning he had been named a member of the Yankees' starting rotation.

“I'm so happy, so happy today," Pineda said in the Yankees clubhouse shortly before the game against the Phillies on Tuesday night. "I feel as excited as I did when I was a rookie with Seattle in 2011, and I was so happy because I was playing in the major leagues. The same thing today. This is a big day for me."

It was impossible not to feel good for Pineda, even if the news came as no surprise to anyone, considering how well he threw the ball all spring. Because when you think back to two years ago, almost to the day, when Pineda walked off the mound here puzzled by his mysterious loss of velocity and alarmed by the pain in his right shoulder, the fact that he has come this far is accomplishment enough.

And having seen him not only control, but dominate hitters this spring with his collection of sliders and changeups, and the occasional low-90s fastball, it's hard not to imagine that somehow, the Yankees might still wind up with the pitcher they parted with Jesus Montero over in January 2012.

[+] EnlargeMichael Pineda
Kim Klement/USA TODAY SportsMichael Pineda's success story will open a new chapter on April 5, when the 6-foot-7 righty will make his return to the big leagues.
But that is a consideration for the future. Right now, the Michael Pineda story is a story of perseverance, not triumph yet. It is also the story of a phenomenally talented athlete who maybe took his talent for granted a little bit, and maybe didn't take his dedication all that seriously. Remember how he showed up for his first Yankees camp 20 pounds overweight, and how, while rehabbing here in Tampa, he got pulled over for a DUI.

But that was a younger, less mature Michael Pineda. The one who fought his way through a major shoulder reconstruction and committed himself to a long, often painful and always lonely rehab process is no longer a cocky kid. Now he's man who has brushed up against the specter of professional mortality and is all the better for it.

"I’m a young guy but I grew a lot, because I’m a better person right now," he said. "I learned a lot, you know? I learn [that] I’m a professional player and I need to focus on baseball every day. Here, in the Dominican, in the offseason, whatever, I have to continue my work every day and be ready all the time, you know?"

In other words, he learned that sometimes, natural talent is not enough, and that sometimes, there is a price to be paid. He just had never had to pay it before.

"It was hard because when you have an injury, you feel a little sad," Pineda said, hanging his head to illustrate his point of the despair he felt in the days following the injury. "I love pitching and I love to compete and I was sad, but everybody told me, 'Don’t worry, man, you’ll be OK, all you need is working hard every day and you be coming back.'"

Pineda said the hardest part was when the Yankees would come to Tampa to play the Rays, but instead of accompanying them to St. Petersburg, he had to remain behind at the minor league complex to face the daily drudgery of rehab.

"I want to be there with them," he said. "But I have to be here."

Now, thanks to a spring in which he threw 13 scoreless innings before allowing a run and struck out 16 batters while walking just one in 15 innings, Pineda will be with the real Yankees the next time they come to Tampa, not the Class A version. He will make his return to the major leagues on Saturday, April 5, against the Blue Jays in Toronto, nearly 1,000 days after the last time in pitched in the big leagues, on Sept. 21, 2011.

"I feel ready to go," Pineda said. "The only thing I think about on the mound is, make a good pitch and get an out. I'm not thinking nothing about my shoulder. I’m putting everything in the past. I want to continue my career and I want to be here for a long time."

Pineda isn't throwing 97 mph anymore, but Joe Girardi thinks he doesn't have to to be successful; this spring, his slider has looked that good. And the shoulder injury that looked as if it might derail a promising career is now being viewed by the Yankees as just a temporary setback on the road to what they hope will still be a long, productive big league career.

"I think in the back of your mind you always worry long-term about a guy that's had an injury like he's had, but short-term he looks great," Girardi said. "I'm not saying I expect him only to make it a month, two months. I'm expecting him to pitch the whole year for us."

When Pineda heard the news this afternoon, the first thing he did was reach for his phone. And like any good son, his first call was to his mother in the Dominican Republic.

"I knew she was waiting for me," Pineda said. "She’s so happy and she’s proud of me. She say, 'The only thing I tell you is continue your job and have a good season this year.'"

The Yankees couldn't have said it better themselves, in any language.

A-Rod makes pitch for Pineda

July, 19, 2013
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MOOSIC, Pa. -- Alex Rodriguez isn't the only big leaguer in Scranton waiting to return to the Bronx.

Right-hander Michael Pineda is toiling with the Yankees' Triple-A team, trying to work his way back from right shoulder surgery performed more than 14 months ago.

Pineda's rehab began in Single-A in early June. He was sent to Triple-A earlier this month and has -- at times -- looked like the pitcher who took the American League by storm two seasons ago.

Michael Pineda
AP Photo/Paul SancyaMichael Pineda has been good lately in rehab. And Alex Rodriguez thinks he'll be a factor this season.
Pineda is 1-1 with a 5.02 ERA, but in his most recent start, the 6-7 righty used a live fastball and strong change to hold Louisville scoreless over 4 2/3 innings.

A-Rod offered a strong endorsement of Pineda's start Thursday night.

"Michael's a very special kid," Rodriguez said. "You couldn't believe how fast this guys is, probably as fast as any [pitcher in the organization]. You've got to see him run. In the weight room, he's like a monster, as strong as you get … and I think that will translate, especially when he gets back from his surgery. It's going to take time for him, especially a power pitcher, but I see him next year pitching 94-98, getting back to that velocity. And I think this year he's going to be a factor at some point."

It's unclear whether A-Rod's last prediction for Pineda will come to fruition. Brian Cashman has said Pineda would have to demonstrate he was better than the five pitchers already in the starting rotation to be reinstated to the Yankees roster.

Pineda hasn't pitched for the Yanks since they received him in a January 2012 trade that sent Jesus Montero to Seattle.

Pineda underwent surgery to repair an anterior labral tear in his right shoulder four months after the trade.

But Rodriguez thinks Pineda will make an impact when he gets the chance.

"He was dominant [in 2011]," Rodriguez said. "I remember facing him and Felix [Hernandez]. That wasn't a lot of fun for me. He was throwing 96, 97. I think he hit 100 a couple times that night in Seattle. He's a very special talent for the Yankees."

Yankees option Pineda to AAA

July, 7, 2013
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NEW YORK -- It should come as no surprise that Michael Pineda's return to the Yankees is on hold for awhile. After this afternoon's 2-1 loss to the Baltimore Orioles, the Yankees announced they had optioned Pineda to the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees, the team's Triple A affiliate.

When asked before the game how he would fit Pineda into the starting rotation, Joe Girardi provided a hint to Pineda's ultimate destination when he said, "Right now, we have [Ivan] Nova slotted into our rotation, and he’s throwing the ball really well. So we haven’t put a lot of thought into that."

And throughout Pineda's rehab from shoulder surgery, GM Brian Cashman said the 24-year-old right-hander acquired last year from the Mariners in exchange for Jesus Montero would have to demonstrate he was better than the five pitchers already in the starting rotation to be reinstated to the Yankees roster.

In five rehab starts since being cleared to pitch again, Pineda had a 2.82 ERA and was said to have hit 95 mph on the radar gun with his fastball. He struck out 22 batters in 22 1/3 innings, but also allowed 27 baserunners (17 hits and 10 walks) and four runs, including two home runs, in three innings against the Mets Double A affiliate two outings back.

In order to clear space on the 40-man roster for Pineda, the Yankees transferred Curtis Granderson to the 60-day DL.

First Pitch: Pineda, a season-changer?

June, 11, 2013
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In nearly half of his starts, the rookie had seven or more strikeouts. In 22 of his 28 starts, he pitched six or more innings. One May day in 2011, in the first game in which he ever took a major league at-bat, he dominated so thoroughly over seven scoreless innings in San Diego that he nearly reached base as many times as the entire Padres' lineup (he reached on an error at the plate and only allowed two hits and a walk on the hill).

If that Michael Pineda is showing up the Bronx soon, it could be a season-changer. That was the Seattle Mariner Pineda, who was an All-Star in 2011, and he is the one Yankees GM Brian Cashman still dreams of being a "right-handed version of CC."

[+] EnlargeMichael Pineda
John Munson/THE STAR-LEDGER via USA TODAY SportsIf Michael Pineda can pitch like he did in 2011, he would be a season-changer.
In 2013, the Yankees are doing well without Pineda. They head into Tuesday's series in Oakland tied with the A's for the wild card and just behind the Red Sox in the AL East. Their starting staff is strong, one through five, as David Phelps solidifies the back end of the rotation. Ivan Nova is revving his stuff back up at Triple-A, while Vidal Nuno, injured at the moment, has been more than solid.

But Pineda is the wild card and a potential co-ace.

In his first rehab start since his shoulder surgery, he had his precision, throwing strikes on 42 of 68 pitches and his fastball, reaching as high as 94 on Sunday in Tampa. With shoulder issues, the feel for pitches is usually the last thing to return. It is just one rehab start, but it could be a very good sign.

The most pressing issue facing the Yankees is not pitching. It is hitting. But the 24-year-old Pineda may be able to help the bats, too.

Pineda's presence could give Cashman a strong hand to play as trade talks heat up. They are not trading Pineda, but their starting depth may allow them to add an outfielder or a more suitable shortstop if Derek Jeter can't come back or is limited when he does return.

Before deciding on Pineda's immediate major league future, the Yankees plan on Pineda making five or six starts, with his next one coming Friday in either Tampa or Charleston.

"He has had a good rehab," Cashman said. "What that ultimately means, how he will be defined moving forward, I have no idea. Will he just be a healthy guy who is in the mix? Will he emerge as a high-end important starter going forward for us in the future, whether it is the near future or the future future? I have no idea. It is hard to predict. Right now, the most important thing is that he appears to be free and easy and healthy."

Just like spring training, Cashman said the Yankees are letting Pineda use his first three starts to build, while four through six will be scrutinized closer to see if the Yankees should put him in the rotation now or keep seasoning him. That is so when he does return, he feels like he did in the first half of 2011.

UP NOW: Derek Jeter is on the field.

ON DECK: Katie Sharp will have her feature "One Mo Time," looking at Mariano Rivera against the A's. That will be up at 11 a.m.

IN THE HOLE: At 10:10 p.m. ET, it will be CC Sabathia (6-4, 3.72) vs. Bartolo Colon (7-2, 3.14) on Tuesday night. Wednesday, it is Phil Hughes (3-4, 4.80) vs. Dan Straily (3-2, 4.67). On Thursday afternoon, it is Hiroki Kuroda (6-5, 2.84) vs. Jarrod Parker (5-6, 4.84). Wallace Matthews will have you covered.

QUESTION: What do you expect from Pineda in 2013?

Notes: Pineda to start rehab assignment

June, 4, 2013
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PinedaAP Photo/Scott IskowitzMichael Pineda will begin his rehab assignment Saturday in Tampa.
Yankees starter Michael Pineda (shoulder) will begin his 30-day rehab assignment on Saturday in Tampa. The team will have 30 days to decide if they want to promote him to the Bronx.

"He'll measure up against what we have. If he's better than anything we have up here, he'll come here," Yankees GM Brian Cashman said Tuesday before the Yankees faced the Indians. "If we don't think he's as good as what we've got, he'll go to triple-A on option."

Pineda, who is working back from offseason shoulder surgery, threw 65 pitches in an extended spring training game Monday, where he sat at 93 mph and topped out at 94 mph. The team will need to build his arm up to roughly 100 pitches, and the 30-day window would allow for around six starts. Cashman said it "depends" when asked whether the Yankees would use the full 30 days.

The team has talked about Pineda returning this season, but it's not a given that he will crack the rotation. Cashman said the team will use him as a starter, and Pineda is going to have to beat out someone currently in the rotation as well as Triple-A hopefuls like Ivan Nova and Vidal Nuno to get his chance.

"By the fourth, fifth, sixth rehab start, we'll be able to compare him to what we have [in Triple-A] and what we have here and slot him accordingly," Cashman said. "Hope his rehab goes well."

OVERBAY BACK IN RIGHT: Lyle Overbay is back in right field for the second straight day after making his first career start there on Monday.

Girardi said this idea had been discussed for approximately two weeks, although Cashman first heard of the idea on Sunday during the rain delay against Boston. Overbay had only played first base during his career prior to Monday.

The manager said one of the concerns with Overbay were the routes he takes to batted balls.

"I talked to [third base coach Rob Thomson] about it and [Thomson] thought he did a pretty good job in the little bit he'd seen him do it," Girardi said. "I said, 'Let's do it.'"

Girardi said there's a chance Overbay plays in Wednesday's series finale, but he does not envision Overbay playing right field three to four times a week. Girardi prefers to have Overbay play the position several times in a row compared to using him arbitrarily.

"If you're going to run a guy out there in a long stretch, you kind of like to do it bang, bang, bang," Girardi said. "Because he's kind of in the feel of the game."

HOMER HEAVY: Last year, the Yankees scored the second-most runs in baseball and hit the most homers by a considerable margin. Some fans criticized the homer-heavy approach for its lack of situational hitting.

This season, the Yankees are still hitting homers with the best of them -- they are in eighth entering Tuesday -- but their offense ranks 17th in runs scored. Cashman has noticed the contrast in fans' reaction.

"Where we rank in offense right now and all those Yankees fans crying about all we do is hit home runs," Cashman said. "Now they're crying we don't score any runs."

Pineda down 20 pounds; to return in June?

February, 14, 2013
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Michael Pineda AP Photo/Scott IskowitzThe Yankees don't expect a noticeably thinner Michael Pineda back until June.
TAMPA, Fla. -- The first good sign: There is less of Michael Pineda. The right-hander began last spring’s disaster with too much weight and not enough velocity, which eventually led him to an operating table with a defective shoulder at the ripe old age of 23.

Now, a year older and perhaps wiser, at 260 pounds (down from 280), the 6-foot-7 Yankee looks more like a power forward than an offensive lineman. The Yankees say they are pleased with his work ethic. They can even dream about a possible return by June.

“It could mean a lot,” Joe Girardi said. “Especially when you get to the time when pitchers get nicked up a little bit. It could be a really nice boost for us.”

[+] EnlargeMichael Pineda
John Munson/THE STAR-LEDGER via USA TODAY SportsPineda said he learned a lot from last year -- especially about handling the New York media.
In the Yankees' clubhouse, Pineda still appears a little uneasy with New York reporters, even though he said he has adjusted to the difference between small-town Seattle and Tabloid City. His apprehension is certainly understandable considering he is hesitant when speaking English, his second language.

“I feel more comfortable now,” Pineda, a Dominican, said quietly as he hosted reporters at his locker on Thursday.

The words won’t mean much either way. It is action on his fastball that will ultimately tell Pineda’s Bronx tale. Pineda is throwing off a mound now, but the Yankees will take his recovery slow.

He has been ruled out of appearing in any spring training games. If all goes right, he will be revving it up in the minors in May and could be in the Bronx by June.

The Yankees could need him by then. It is hard to find places where the Yankees have improved over the 2012 edition. Pineda is the rare spot in which the Yankees could get better, but it is still a bit of a long shot for this season.

Shoulder surgeries can wreck careers. Pineda’s dedication must be consistent if he is ever going to be the future ace the Yankees thought they were acquiring for Jesus Montero 14 months ago.

“I’m ready to pitch this year,” Pineda said. “I want to compete and help my team.”

Interviews with Pineda are stilted, as much the fault of the English-only speakers who surround the pitcher's locker. There was a lot of ground to cover, from last spring’s weight to Pineda's loss of velocity to a DUI arrest while rehabbing here in the summer to the expectations for 2013.

“I learned a lot [from] last year,” Pineda said. “It was a really bad year for me. I learned from all the situations I had from last year.”

The Yankees have been trying to limit the expectations for Pineda since the moment they traded for him on Jan. 13, 2012, which just happened to be a Friday. Montero excited the fan base by launching balls all over the Bronx in September 2011, and with GM Brian Cashman comparing Montero to a young Manny Ramirez, the fans couldn't be blamed for wanting Pineda to show up as half-CC Sabathia, half-Walter Johnson.

Given that he made the All-Star team in 2010, his rookie year, the Yankees were still trying to tamp down the expectations that he could ride shotgun to Sabathia as the No. 2 starter. Pineda showed up to camp overweight and without enough on a fastball that was supposed to dial up to the mid-to-upper 90s but could barely inch up above 90 during his spring outings.

So now, the Yankees don't want to rest their hopes on Pineda.

“It’s possible before the All-Star break [that he could return],” Cashman said. “It’s not unusual to have setbacks when these guys go through their throwing programs, especially when they get on the mound. That hasn’t happened yet, but it could very well happen and we’ll have to make an adjustment. I’ve always thought about June as when we can realistically start thinking about him.”

Pineda may never be what the Yankees had hoped for, but if he gives them even a little in 2013, it could be a bonus.

The Pineda Trade, a year later

January, 11, 2013
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Getty Images/US PresswireIn January 2012, the Yankees sent catcher Jesus Montero to the Mariners for starting pitcher Michael Pineda in an ill-fated trade.
On Sunday, it will be the one-year anniversary of the Michael Pineda-Jesus Montero trade. The deal, which also saw prospect Jose Campos come east and Hector Noesi go west, has been pretty unsatisfying for both teams.

Let's take a look back at what was said and what has transpired over the last 12 months.

1. THE TRADE: On Jan. 13, a Friday, Brian Cashman dealt Montero for Pineda. Cashman sent a verbal bouquet along with Montero to Seattle.

"He may very well be the best player I've traded," Cashman said of Montero, whose bat excited Yankees fans in September, 2011.

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Still, Montero was never going to be the defense-first catcher that Joe Girardi favors, so Montero was likely a no-go to ever be behind the plate full-time in the Bronx.

Meanwhile, Pineda, an All-Star as a rookie with the Mariners, was very excited about the deal.

"I never thought I would become a New York Yankee so early into my career," Pineda said. "This is the best thing in the world. Pitching alongside CC Sabathia, I'm speechless. And playing alongside players such as Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter is unbelievable."

2. THE MEDIA: Pineda, who was just 23, arrived in camp and seemed to be overwhelmed by the attention over every move he made. The media respected the fact that his first language was not English, but he was still very uneasy in the clubhouse.

"Sometimes I'm a little scared because I don't want to make a mistake," said Pineda, who grew up in the Dominican Republic. "I try to speak English, but my English is not very good."

3. THE WEIGHT: What hurt Pineda early was that he was overweight and could never find his fastball. A heater that was supposed to be 98 had trouble being consistently in the low 90s. By the end of camp, the Yankees decided not to take the struggling Pineda north. He was put on the DL with shoulder tendinitis.

4. THE SURGERY: Then things got worse. Pineda tried to rehab and felt pain in his shoulder. Pineda eventually needed surgery, prompting even Cashman to question the deal.

"This is a massive decision gone wrong, right now," Cashman told Wallace Matthews in late April. "So all scrutiny is fair. ... Right now, our hopes and dreams for this player are in jeopardy. Hopefully, someday, our fans will get to see what we expected to see from him for many years to come."

5. THE ARREST: Pineda made more bad news in August after being arrested for DUI in Tampa at 2:35 a.m. during his shoulder rehab.

The police report said Pineda "had a fixed gaze and his eyes were bloodshot, watery and glassy." It added, “No headlights were illuminated at night.” The officer could smell “a distinct odor of an alcoholic beverage coming from his breath and his speech was slurred.”

6. THE FUTURE: Since then, the Yankees have tamped down expectations for Pineda. He is long-tossing at the moment and the hope is he could come back by June of 2013 to throw his first major league pitch as a Yankee. Meanwhile, Montero did not overwhelm in Seattle.

While still not proving he can catch regularly in the bigs, Montero hit .260 with 15 homers and 62 RBIs. His .OPS was .685. The Mariners have moved in the fences this season so his numbers should rise.

As Pineda attempts to come back, he will try to return from an injury that takes supreme dedication. A year ago, the talk was that Pineda could ride shotgun with Sabathia to lead the Yanks' staff. Now, it is a question of whether he ever will be in the rotation.

QUESTION: Obviously, the trade has not worked out so far, but do you still believe Pineda can be a top-of-the-line starter?

Gardner, Joba, Manny B., Campos, etc.

May, 31, 2012
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Brett Gardner (elbow) is getting close, but not close enough for Brian Cashman to give a date when he could return.

"We start looking at potentially scheduling games in the minor leagues," Cashman said. "I will hold off on that until the batting practice sessions."

Gardner, out since the middle of April, could take batting practice this weekend and then play in a few rehab games before returning to the Yanks. So at some point toward the end of next week seems possible.

Joba Chamberlain is not running yet because of his dislocated ankle that has kept him out all season, Cashman said. Chamberlain, who is also still recovering from Tommy John surgery, has been throwing off of flat ground. The team is still deciding when or if he can go off a mound before he starts to run.

Cashman said Chamberlain still could be back this season. He declined to give a month.

David Aardsma, the former Mariners' closer, is rehabbing from Tommy John. Cashman said that it is going well for Aardsma. Cashman said that he would stick with the original estimates of August as a time that Aardsma could be ready for the bigs. Aardsma probably has a better chance to make an impact this year than Chamberlain, but that is very speculative.

"It is hard to gauge where guys are until they are in rehab games," Cashman said.

Manny Baneulos, who is still the Yankees' top pitching prospect, is still "shutdown" with left elbow soreness, Cashman said. Cashman doesn't have a time-table for his return, but said it would be this year. There was a slim chance Banuelos could contribute on the major-league level this season, but it is becoming slimmer each day Banuelos misses. Banuelos is 0-2 with a 4.50 ERA. He was on the DL with a back injury earlier in the season. When he returned he was throwing crisper and not walking as many batters, which was a very encouraging sign.

Jose Campos is also still "shutdown" right now because of elbow soreness, Cashman said. Campos was the minor leaguer in the Michael Pineda-Jesus Montero deal. Campos, 19, began the year 3-0 with a 1.23 ERA at Single-A before a bad outing pushed it up to its current 4.01. He has now been out for three weeks.

"He'll be back this year at some point," Cashman said.

As for the certainty for Banuelos and Campos returning this year, Cashman used the phrase "without a doubt."

• Minor league catcher Austin Romine, out all year, tweeted that he has been cleared for baseball activities. He has been out with a bad back.

The Cash Register

April, 26, 2012
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The Cash Register is a regular feature of the blog in which we chart how former Yankees who were traded away are faring this season.

The former Yankees

" Seattle catcher Jesus Montero: Montero is batting .281 with two home runs and 11 RBIs. He's not walking much or hitting for power, but he's been one of the top two bats for Seattle.

" Seattle starter Hector Noesi: Noesi has struggled as a starter, going 1-2 with a 9.49 ERA. Noesi gave up six runs in 1 1/3 innings last time out against Chicago.

" Arizona pitcher Ian Kennedy: Kennedy is 3-0 with a 3.86 ERA, continuing his excellence from last season. He gave up three runs over seven innings in a win against Atlanta on Sunday.

" Detroit center fielder Austin Jackson: Jackson is hitting. 261 with three home runs and five RBIs. He owns a .363 on-base percentage, an increase from his career average.

" Detroit reliever Phil Coke: The lefty is enjoying a solid start as he has a 2.45 ERA. He's averaging more than a strikeout per inning and has given up just two runs in 7 1/3 innings.

" San Francisco left fielder Melky Cabrera: Cabrera continues his hot hitting since he left the Bronx as he's at .301 with a .386 on-base percentage. He has one homer and 11 RBIs.

" Miami reliever Mike Dunn: After a rough outing against the Mets Wednesday, Dunn's ERA is 6.23. He has pitched just 4/13 innings but has given up four runs (three earned) this season.

" Boston reliever Mark Melancon: Melancon had a 49.50 ERA before being demoted to AAA. In three games with Pawtucket entering Wednesday he had yet to give up a run.

" Atlanta pitcher Arodys Vizcaino: Vizcaino, a minor leaguer, is going to miss the season after undergoing Tommy John Surgery. He is one of the top prospects in baseball.

" San Francisco reliever George Kontos: Kontos had pitched to a 2.35 ERA with Fresno (AAA) this year. He has given up just two runs in 7 2/3 innings spanning seven relief appearances.

The trades

" Montero/Noesi for Michael Pineda/Jose Campos

" Kennedy/Coke/Jackson for Curtis Granderson

" Cabrera/Dunn/Vizcaino for Javier Vazquez/Boone Logan

" Melancon/Jimmy Paredes for Lance Berkman

" Kontos for Chris Stewart

Editor's note: Are there any prospects the Yankees traded away that you'd like to be considered for this list? Please let us know in the comments section below.

Updated: Killer P's schedule

April, 16, 2012
4/16/12
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After Andy Pettitte's four scoreless innings, Joe Girardi said Pettitte needs four more starts before he will be ready for the major leagues. So Pettitte, conceivably, could return to the big club in about three weeks.

Pettitte is also expected to appear as a witness in the Roger Clemens trial. Jury selection for the trial begins on Monday.

Meanwhile, also on Monday, Michael Pineda is scheduled to throw his first bullpen since he was put on the DL with shoulder tendinitis. Girardi said he will have a better idea of where Pineda stands after the 'pen. Girardi said it is possible Pineda could basically need a full spring training worth of starts (six) to be ready. So there is no telling at this point when he will make his Yankees major league debut.

GM Brian Cashman said Pineda could throw in a minor league game by this weekend, but Cashman did not have an exact date yet.

How wrong can Joe Girardi be?

March, 29, 2012
3/29/12
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The answer is, not very wrong at all, if the question is "Who should get the job as the No. 5 starter in the Yankees rotation?''

And as in most recent Yankee spring trainings, that is the only real question to be settled here, other than will it be Clay Rapada or Cesar Cabral as the ''other'' situational lefty out of the bullpen, and should they go with salted or unsalted sunflower seeds in the dugout this season?

All spring training, myself and my colleagues on the beat have been trying to read the tea leaves, in Brian Cashman's favorite phrase, to figure out who will be awarded this largely unimportant job because, frankly, there is no other issue to be decided. Like a Clearwater motel on spring break week, the Yankees simply have no vacancies.

But this week, things have gotten downright silly. This morning, GAK III of the Post virtually anointed Freddy Garcia the No. 4 starter, with the No. 5 spot coming down to either Michael Pineda or Ivan Nova. Feinsand of the News took a more cautious approach, writing about the "tough decision'' Joe Girardi will have to make over the next few days.

With all due respect to both gentlemen, whom I respect and consider friends, this is much ado about very little.

First of all, Freddy Garcia has been handed nothing yet, and if anything, seems the easiest of the three to relegate to bullpen duty without serious aftershocks. He's a veteran, not prone to being rattled by a change of assignment or scenery, having pitched for six teams over 13 years. He's no prima donna, and will not pout if his precious "routine'' is interrupted. And while he hasn't pitched out of the bullpen much, he has shown himself capable of pitching well in pressure situations. So if anyone can handle being given the short straw, it is Freddy.

And second of all, how ''tough'' a decision can it be when just about any choice Girardi makes can be reversed at any time? He's got six starters and none of them has pitched himself out of contention. So if he goes with, say, Freddy as No. 5 and sends Ivan Nova to the pen and it doesn't work out, he flip-flops them a month from now. You can substitute any names you want into that last sentence and it remains the same story.

Whatever Girardi's decision is - if it is, in fact, his decision in the first place -- it can hardly be very wrong, because it's not even close to permanent. And then, on May 1, Andy Pettitte comes back we have all this fun all over again.

Girardi said yesterday the four pitchers are still being evaluated and that each could still show him something that could tip the scales one way or the other.

This, too, is hogwash, because if the spring numbers really counted for anything, the guy fighting for his spot in the rotation would be CC Sabathia, who with an 0-1 record and 4.50 spring ERA and healthy .298 opponent's batting average against him, might well be locked into the Drive for No. 5 with Nova, who is at 1-2, 6.86 and .280.

But Girardi anointed CC his ace before a pitch was thrown, and rightfully so, and handed the No. 2 spot -- and the start in the April 13 home opener at Yankee Stadium -- to Hiroki Kuroda, who after a shaky start has had a fine spring (2-1, 2.91). Phil Hughes should have nailed down the No. 3 spot with his rebound performance this March (2.03 ERA, .220 OBA).

That leaves Pineda, who the Yankees thought enough of to part with Jesus Montero in order to obtain, Nova, who win 16 games last year, and Freddy, who has 13 years of experience and a lifetime of guile and guts on his resume, battling it out for two jobs.

So no matter which way Girardi goes, how wrong can he really be?

The answer is, not very wrong at all.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Jacoby Ellsbury
BA HR RBI R
.271 16 70 71
OTHER LEADERS
HRB. McCann 23
RBIB. McCann 75
RB. Gardner 87
OPSB. Gardner .749
WM. Tanaka 13
ERAH. Kuroda 3.71
SOH. Kuroda 146