There are days baseball makes me sad. Today is one of those days.
As most of you know, I'm a Mariners fan, and other than Felix Hernandez and a couple months of Cliff Lee's genius, it's been a miserable few years rooting for the M's. It's been a miserable half-decade to be honest.
That's one reason I fell a little bit in love with Michael Pineda last season. He was new and young, big and bulky and kind of inelegant on the mound, sort of a gangly mess of limbs and torso as he pitched. But, man could he could pitch. He threw hard, he threw strikes and there are few things in baseball as electrifying as a rookie pitcher who can ring it up into the upper 90s and has a clue where the ball is going.
He was dazzling to watch, that rare rookie in which you think the sky is the limit and believe it.
Yes, he wasn't as good in the second half, but that was of little concern. He got a little tired. He just needed to master his changeup for 2012. Then he'd be unhittable.
Then he got traded. I know Mariners fans who immediately said they hoped Pineda didn't do well in New York. "We want to win the trade," they said. What? Why does that matter? You hope Jesus Montero does well with the Mariners, but root against Michael Pineda? No way. I was hoping he'd take New York City by storm, become a fearsome twosome with CC Sabathia, let the rest of the baseball world see how good he was.
Then his velocity wasn't there in spring training. Then he had to leave a game early with a sore shoulder. He was despondent, a 23-year-old kid who had worked hard at his craft, had worked hard to learn English, a kid excited last April to pass his driving test to get his license. A kid with an electric arm and now a shoulder that wouldn't allow him to do his thing.
He's out for the season now as he'll undergo surgery for a torn labrum. It's a tough injury, maybe even tougher to come back from than Tommy John surgery. Curt Schilling and Chris Carpenter are two guys who've done it.
The Yankees may cry damaged goods, who knows. Maybe Pineda hurt his shoulder some time last season. Maybe he hurt it that first time out this spring, or maybe in a subsequent appearance as he tried to throw harder. At this point, it doesn't matter. The Yankees should be fine this season. Andy Pettitte makes another tuneup start in the minors on Wednesday night and will soon be ready. They have David Phelps, who can pitch in the rotation, and their own homegrown prospects, Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances, may be ready by midseason if Phil Hughes and Freddy Garcia continue to struggle. And they're the Yankees, always ready and able to swing a deal if needed.
But the sad part is Yankees fans won't get to see Michael Pineda pitch this year. We can only hope they'll get to in 2013.
Follow David Schoenfield on Twitter @dschoenfield.