A-Rod makes pitch for Pineda

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.

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."