- Mike Mazzeo, ESPN Staff Writer
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NEW YORK -- Seattle Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik said he "feels bad" for Brian Cashman and the New York Yankees because right-hander Michael Pineda was lost for the season because of a torn labrum.
Zduriencik has maintained he never knew Pineda was damaged goods when he traded the 23-year-old to the Yankees in January's blockbuster deal in exchange for DH/catcher Jesus Montero.
Cashman never has accused Zduriencik of any wrongdoing during the transaction. Nothing ever showed up on any medical records to suggest otherwise. The Yankees thought they were adding a healthy impact pitcher to solidify the front end of their rotation.
"I feel bad for Brian, and I feel very bad for the Yankees," Zduriencik said prior to Friday night's Yankees-Mariners series opener at Yankee Stadium. "I wish this thing would've been a little different. But again, the fact that (Pineda)'s so young and he's strong, he should bounce back from this."
Zduriencik said that from his standpoint as a GM, he "never tries to win any trade." His team was in need of offense, while the Yankees were in need of pitching. On the surface, it looked to be a fairly even deal that would pay dividends for both sides.
"It could happen to anybody," said Zduriencik, who viewed Pineda as a solid No. 2 starter behind ace Felix Hernandez prior to the trade. "It's just very unfortunate circumstances, but we're probably his biggest fans outside the Yankees."
Montero is hitting .268 with four home runs and 16 RBIs in 29 games for the Mariners. On Friday night, he'll bat cleanup against Yankees right-hander Hiroki Kuroda.
"He's done a nice job," Zduriencik said of Montero. "He's a young guy who is learning to play the most difficult position to play on the field."
Zduriencik was asked what he thinks Montero's ceiling is.
"I hate to put expectations on any player. I don't think that's fair," he replied. "When we made the deal, we thought this guy would hit somewhere in the middle of our lineup and he's doing that right now. Twenty-two years of age with minimal time in the big leagues, if he stays healthy, we think he's gonna be a nice player for us."
Montero, once touted as a top prospect in the Yankees' organization, will be playing in his first game at Yankee Stadium since being dealt.
"I'm really excited to be here and happy to back," Montero said after hesitating a bit. "I'm gonna have some fun tonight and I look forward to winning and do the best for my team."
The trade caught him off guard.
"I was surprised, but after that I was happy because I'm here with more opportunity to play. And my family was happy too," Montero said.
Montero said the biggest adjustment to being an every-day player is being patient at the plate and controlling his emotions. He believes he can be an every-day catcher in the majors, despite wide-spread criticisms to the contrary.
Jose Campos, the 19-year-old right-hander who the Yankees also acquired in the Pineda-Montero deal, is on the shelf with elbow inflammation. He had gone 3-0 with a 4.01 ERA for Class A Charleston.
The other player in the deal, right-hander Hector Noesi, will make his first start against the Yankees on Saturday afternoon. The 25-year-old is 2-3 with a 6.30 ERA.
Mike Mazzeo is a frequent contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.
2hAdam Lewis, Special to ESPN.com