Yanks up in arms over Michael Pineda

Updated: April 27, 2012, 10:09 PM ET
By Wallace Matthews | ESPNNewYork.com

NEW YORK -- Two days after the announcement that his prize offseason acquisition would not play this year, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman admitted to fearing he made a mistake in trading away Jesus Montero for Michael Pineda.

"Right now, our hopes and dreams for this player are in jeopardy," Cashman said of Pineda. "Hopefully, someday, our fans will get to see what we expected to see from him for many years to come."

The Yankees announced on Wednesday that Pineda, acquired from the Seattle Mariners in January -- on Friday the 13th -- had suffered a torn labrum in a rehabilitation start on Saturday in Tampa and would undergo season-ending shoulder surgery.

Cashman All I can do is lay out the facts; I can't control what people believe. There are no secrets in Yankeeland, nor should there be. If something's there, it will eventually get out. I'm not going to compound the situation by lying about it.

-- Yankees GM Brian Cashman

"This is a massive decision gone wrong right now," Cashman told ESPNNewYork.com on Friday. "So all scrutiny is fair."

Cashman has asserted the Yankees had subjected Pineda to an MRI before the trade became official, but doubts linger whether the Mariners and their GM, Jack Zduriencik, knew the 23-year-old right-hander was damaged goods when the Yankees made the deal.

"How can you not ask a question like that?" Cashman said. "It's a fair question, but I can tell you we did everything possible to be sure Michael Pineda was healthy."

Cashman said Pineda passed his Yankees physical within 72 hours of the deal having been agreed upon, a physical that included an MRI.

About a month later, the Yankees voided a deal with left-handed relief pitcher Hideki Okajima, a pitcher the club had much less invested in than Pineda, after he failed his physical.

"All I can do is lay out the facts; I can't control what people believe," Cashman said. "There are no secrets in Yankeeland, nor should there be. If something's there, it will eventually get out. I'm not going to compound the situation by lying about it."

As he had on Wednesday, Cashman absolved the Mariners and Zduriencik of any blame in the matter.

"The focus should be on me and the New York Yankees, not the Seattle Mariners," he said. "I'm responsible. I'm the decision-maker."

Cashman said he, too, had wondered about the condition of Pineda's shoulder during spring training, when he struggled to get his fastball above 90 mph on a consistent basis.

"I asked him several times through an interpreter if he had ever been in an MRI tube at Seattle," Cashman said. "Each time, the answer was the same.

"Nunca."

Never.

Cashman broke the news about Pineda's surgery to his boss, Hal Steinbrenner, on a conference call on Wednesday, but said he could not tell if Steinbrenner also wondered if the Yankees had traded for an injured pitcher.

"He just listened," Cashman said. "He was obviously disappointed, but if he has the same kind of questions, I couldn't tell."

Pineda, who was shut down 15 pitches into his first minor league rehab start on Saturday after complaining of pain in his shoulder, will be operated on by Dr. David Altchek, the Mets' team physician, at the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan.

Cashman said that while Pineda, who struggled with velocity issues throughout spring training, had previously complained of weakness in the back of his shoulder, Saturday was the first time he actually reported feeling pain.

According to Dr. Chris Ahmad, the Yankees' team doctor who will assist in the surgery, and other sources who spoke to ESPNNewYork.com, the fact that Pineda's tear is in the anterior, or front, of the labrum increases his chances for a full recovery. A posterior labral tear often involves the rotator cuff, which Dr. Ahmad said was not affected in Pineda's case.

One source put Pineda's chances for a full recovery at 85 percent after a long period of rehabilitation, expected to be 12 months from the date of the surgery.

"Our fans are right to be upset about this," Cashman said. "I'm devastated by it. I just hope everyone understands that every move I make is to improve this club, not hurt it."

Wallace Matthews has covered New York sports since 1983 as a reporter, columnist, radio host and TV commentator. He covers the Yankees for ESPNNewYork.com after working for Newsday, the New York Post, the New York Sun and ESPN New York 98.7 FM.
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