Michael Pineda & Bad Timing

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(REUTERS/Steve Nesius)

The Yankees opened their season sans Michael Pineda yesterday, as the young right-hander started the year on the disabled list with a bout of shoulder tendinitis. Pineda has played catch in each of the last two days, suggesting that the injury isn’t too serious. Joe Girardi said yesterday that it’s “safe to say” we won’t see him in the big leagues this month though, which jives with the ultra-conservative approach they’re reportedly taking.

Reports indicate that Pineda came to camp 10-20 lbs. overweight, and Brian Cashman openly questioned his offseason routine. “I betcha it’s the first time he picked up a ball and started working out, and he’s probably using — it doesn’t make it right, if it’s the case, but I can’t tell you it’s the case — but he’s probably using Spring Training to get himself in shape,” said the GM a few weeks ago. Turns out there’s a little more to the story than that. Courtesy of Marc Carig

A wrinkle in the Michael Pineda Saga: Turns out that Pineda was slated to arrive at M’s camp Jan. 22 to work out early, just as he did before his great rookie year. Then Pineda got traded, and there was a 10-day lag before it became official. Ultimately, Pineda didn’t arrive in Tampa until Feb. 14, still early, but not as planned. Impossible to know if extra 3 weeks of work would have made difference. But Pineda knows this much: “Next year, I’m coming early. I’m doing my plan.”

The Yankees agreed to acquire Pineda on Friday the 13th, but the trade didn’t become official until ten days later as Carig said. By then he was already a day behind, and by time he actually got to Tampa, he was already 23 days behind schedule. It’s not a surprise he came down with an achy shoulder after ramping up his throwing with three fewer weeks of workouts than originally planned.

Patience is a big part of how the Yankees’ front office has operated in recent years, and it served them well this offseason. They acquired Pineda (and Jose Campos!) for two young players rather than four, which is what it took for other teams to land guys like Doug Fister, Mat Latos, and Gio Gonzalez. That patience also appears to have hurt the club and specifically Pineda due to the timing of the trade and the right-hander’s offseason schedule. It’s unfortunate more than anything; it’s not like the Yankees are keeping tabs on the offseason routine of every other player around the league. Hopefully this unplanned but extended break gets Pineda back to where he was last season, because that guy was really awesome.

Yanks drop season opener in walk-off style
New Feature: The Bullpen Workload Page
  • crawdaddie

    Perhaps, the Yankees need to be more proactive on the offseason conditioning of their players as this isn’t the first time somebody came to camp not in shape.

    • jjyank

      I think that’s generally true (like in Hughes’ case last off season), but that doesn’t apply to Pineda. They didn’t even get him until the offseason was almost over. It seems like the Mariners told Pineda do rest all offseason, then come to camp early to get in shape after what was likely the most strenuous season of his life. After all this nonsense though, I would imagine the Yankees will give Pineda a offseason workout plan next year.

      • crawdaddie

        The trade was official on January 23rd so the Yankees could’ve got in touch with him then about getting in shape.

        • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

          How do you know they didn’t just tell him to get to camp on the 14th?

          • crawdaddie

            Then that’s their mistake because they gave him a physical and therefore knew his weight.

          • Geo

            I imagine there was a period of time that he could do little physical activity till the trade went thru to avoid injury.

        • jjyank

          The Yankees probably didn’t know he was out of shape. I’m not defending them entirely, I do think that should have been something the Yankees inquired about after the trade became official, but it is also understandable that details like that get lost in the shuffle of a big trade.

          I would venture to guess that NOT working out and showing up to camp early to get in shape is not a normal offseason routine. If it isn’t normal, then maybe the Yankees brass didn’t expect Pineda to be engaged in such a plan. Again, they shouldn’t have assumed in hindsight, but I get why they might not have thought about his routine.

          • Ted Nelson

            They gave him a physical, so I’m not sure how they wouldn’t know.

            And you’d think one of the first questions he was asked after officially becoming a Yankee was what sort of conditioning program the Ms had him on.

            Not saying that the Yanks necessarily did anything wrong, I just don’t really buy the ignorance or late acquisition excuses/reasoning.

            • jjyank

              Yeah, the more I think about it, the more confused I get about the whole thing. I’m not really sure why Cashman seemingly had no idea that Pineda was out of shape, or what his offseason program was.

              And if Pineda knew what he was supposed to do (come to camp early to get into shape), then why didn’t he tell the Yankees what he was supposed to?

              At the end of the day, we can’t really blame anyone. Our information about all this is very much incomplete and we can’t really get any closer than theorizing.

              • RetroRob

                Don’t be. We know very little about what was told to Pineda, first by the Mariners and then by the Yankees. Just snippets and guesses. We don’t even know yet what caused Pineda’s reduced velocity, although we can make resonable shots at it.

  • jjyank

    Well that’s interesting. Hopefully getting a late start to his workouts is really all this is. I wish this had come out earlier though, so we didn’t have to suffer the seemingly endless weeks of “where did his VLO GO???!?!?!111”. Oh well. Here’s to hoping Pineda comes back strong!

  • Another Bronx Dynasty

    I thought I read somewhere he last ST with the Mariners he was throwing 96-97MPH? He hit 94MPH a few times this spring? Somthing doesn’t sound right here…. I don’t know why but the Yankees seem to cover up pitchers injuries?

    They did it with Joba, and Hughes calling it Dead Arm last yr? You think it was them running these blogs. I know with Pineada they say he has had a clean MRI…lets wait till May & hope to see our future Ace.

    • jjyank

      Well if Pineda’s usual offseason plan consists of resting, then getting to camp early to get in shape, then he probably did that during the 2010-2011 offseason. Therefore he was in shape in time for 2011. Sounds like the trade disrupted or delayed his plan and was not in shape in time for 2012, hurting his shoulder trying to overcompensate.

    • Mike HC

      I don’t think it is them so much covering up the injuries, as it is them just not knowing what the hell is going on. Velocity down, guy says he has a hurt shoulder, and nothing really comes up on the MRI. Kind of similar to Hughes. Then they look back and say if it was not an injury, it must be because the pitcher was fat and lazy.

      I think nobody really know why and it is just guessing.

      • RetroRob

        Exactly. They weren’t covering up anything with Hughes at all. And, btw, why do fans think teams need to reveal what’s going on health wise with their players since that’s knowledge that can be used by other teams on the field or during trade negotions?

        He had reduced velocity, they eventually shut him down, did an MRI, saw inflamation, and then put him on a get-well program. I’m missing the cover-up.

  • Another Bronx Dynasty

    Just as important as his arm or shoulder is his confidence & psyche especially when coming to NY. Looks like the kid was blown away with the press in ST. Wait till he gets to the Bronx.

    If he pitches well he’ll be a hero & the City will fall in love with him…alla 2007 Joba. If he gets blown out the Boo Birds will come out early & often.

    • hogsmog

      I didn’t really get the impression that he was “blown away with the press”. Where did you? He actually seemed quite calm in all the interviews I read.

  • 42isNotMortal

    I get the significant need for Pineda to rest his arm following the stress of his first big league tour, but does that mean Andy and his Clemens borrowed power lifting and core training is more exception than rule?

    • Ted Nelson

      I would say Clemens’ work ethic was definitely exceptional from everything I’ve heard. However, not picking up a ball isn’t the same thing as not picking up a weight or not running a pole. We still don’t really know much about what Pineda did and didn’t do this offseason.

    • RetroRob

      There’s something else here that needs to be considered, and it’s age and experience. Clemens was not known for great conditioning early on in his career. It’s something he developed later.

      There is a similarity between Hughes and Pineda. Both were young, highly toutced prospects coming off of their first full season as MLB starters. Hughes in 2010 and Pineda in 2011. Then both came to camp the following year not in peak form, perhaps taking some things for granted, perhaps just taking resting too far coming off of peak workloads. Both had reduced velocity in camp, both seemed to have tried to compensate for it, and ended up with inflamed shoulders.

      There’s a learning experience here, and I think both Hughes and Pineda have gone through one of the steps in the last year.

  • Mike HC

    Let the Mariners win the fist couple months of the trade, even first year. Yanks hopefully win the next 5.

    • Gonzo

      SSS FTW!!!

      Montero: .182/.167/.182/.348

      • Mike HC

        Better to be a zero than a negative. Yanks are winning the trade!

        • Monterowasdinero

          We’ll see if the Yanks are as patient with Pineda as the M’s will be with Montero batting 5th all season.

          With Andy looming, I doubt it.

          At least Pineda had the good sense to say no when Joba asked him to join him for some trampoline jumping.

          • jjyank

            Of course the Yankees won’t be as patient as a last place, rebuilding team with no better alternatives.

            That is not to say the Yankees will just kick Pineda out of the rotation either. Whoever is performing worse will get the boot. Could be either of Pineda, Nova, Hughes, or Garcia.

          • Paul VuvuZuvella

            Still wouldn’t rule out the yanks dealing a SP at the trade deadline (Nova or Hughes) for a young cost controlled OF to take over RF in ’13. Especially if Pineda is back and effective in June and Hughes reestablishes his value…and Manny and Dellin are taking steps forward in AAA…and Andy is Andy.

          • mustang

            “Of course the Yankees won’t be as patient as a last place, rebuilding team with no better alternatives.”

            Exactly and the Yankees are also thinking of the future as recently pointed out here the price of pitching is going up and if they want to keep payroll down Pineda and Nova are key. No matter how cost efficient Montero is now its a lot cheaper to find a DH then a number #2 starting pitcher.
            Then again we are trying to make this point to someone who sees a sac fly RBI to right and sharp groundout as “lightning in his bat”. SMH!
            The blinders have now officially become a blindfold.

            • mustang
            • jjyank

              Following prospects is fun and all, but I think poor Monterowasdinero is a fine example of why to not get too attached to any one prospect.

              • mustang

                He is not the only one in the early 1990 I fell in love with the heir apparent to Don Mattingly. The kid’s early result did not disappoint and I was sure he would be the next Yankee star. The kid name Kevin Maas and I learned my lesson.

    • mustang

      Its ridiculousness to keep score this early into the Montero/ Pineda trade but if we must:

      Montero: .182/.167/.182/.348 all at DH. He must have forgotten his catcher mitt.

      Pineda hasn’t pitched, but its not like the Yankees really need him right now.

      Campos pitched well and Noesi starts on Monday.

      I say it’s about a tie with maybe the Yankees having a very small lead, but again with the simple size its just ridiculous to judge.

      • Mike HC

        I think trading for a pitcher who then claims to have shoulder pain is not exactly “winning the trade” thus far. But like I said, and as you mentioned, the move wasn’t made for the first couple months of this season, but for the next 5+ years.

        • mustang

          Agree to early to judge this regardless.

  • Another Bronx Dynasty

    Remember that Andy & Clemmens had a little help with the juice. Remember the steroid rage during the WS against the Mets when he picked up the shattered bat from Piazza & threw it at him when he was walking to first.

    • http://www.teamnerdrage.com dr mrs the yankee

      Clemens had his shoulder surgery in 1985.

  • dean

    Pretty impressive debut for Campos last night….I haven’t read any scouting reviews but if he continues to mow through low A with 10 pitch innings they may decide he’s too good for that league quickly ….

  • Plank

    How does this happen? Did the Yankees know the Mariners offseason plans and disagree? Did they ask him to come early but he refused? Did they do nothing?

    Seems like someone dropped the ball. The buck stops with Pineda when it comes to Pineda but this is the first time he’s gone through this so there should have been someone guiding him.

    • Gonzo

      From what I’ve read from prospect interviews, the Yankees don’t “force” a lot of training on their players/prospects.

      Have no idea if it’s just the Yankees or if it’s all teams though.

  • Manny’s BanWagon

    All will be forgiven when Pineda recovers and starts throwing bullets again but it’s becoming all to common with these pitchers not getting in shape.

    I know Cashman doesn’t like weight clauses because he doesn’t want players starving themselves or sitting in a sauna before a weigh in but these guys need to be held more accountable. Buster Olney even implied CC’s weight gain throughout last season after he had lost a bunch of weight might have contributed to his poor finish.

  • Plank

    It seems like the team would be well served having off-season trainers/monitors to help players with their off-season routines. At the very least, they should set up schedules with the players at the end of the season.

    If they had a trainer in NY, LA, AZ, FL, TX, and 2 in DR, they would be within driving distance of 90% of the players. Seems like money well spent to me.

    I’m sure this isn’t a novel thought and there is a system in place. I wonder what it is.

    • Gonzo

      I wonder if there’s something in the CBA about this. Maybe the union won’t allow it. Who knows.

      • Plank

        Good point. I bet there is something in the CBA about it.

        They could still have trainers available and highly recommended even if not mandatory.

  • Another Bronx Dynasty

    Plank…possibly 4 trainers in the DR would do the trick

    • Mike HC

      Yes, everyone seems to be in just fine shape working out with David Ortiz in the DR during the off season, Cano included.

    • Plank

      Yeah, I really don’t know anything about the DR, would players be spread out throughout the country, or would it be like America where there are clusters in the South and West?

  • http://twitter.com/karcotte karcotte


  • Another Bronx Dynasty

    Very poor country, island split with Haiti. Large percentage of MLB players come from this island. I guess the Cano’s & the Ortiz’s can have custom gyms built inside their homes, and one day so will Pineada.

    It appears that more & more young players need off season conditionng programs.

  • Virgil Earp

    In recent years we’ve seen Hughes out of shape, CC out of shape, Bartolo, Pineda and the list goes on. What are the strength and conditioning coaches doing? We could have used Montero yesterday. With Andy back there’s no room in the rotation for Pineda anyway.

    • Sweet Dick Willie

      We could have used Montero yesterday

      You do know he’s 2 for 12 with one RBI, and both hits were singles, right?

      The DH for the Yankees yesterday had 4 RBI.

    • CP

      Bart was not out shape. In fact, he was pretty dominant from the start.

      • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

        They’re only out of shape when they aren’t performing well. Haven’t you learned that yet?

    • Tom Zig

      Offense wasn’t the problem yesterday. Carlos Pena (who sucks vs lefties) hit a grand slam off CC Sabathia who dominates lefties was the problem.

      Also Mariano had a bad game.

      Both events are rare, they just happened on the same day. You can’t predict baseball.

  • Paul VuvuZuvella

    Totally beyond me how a young professional athlete could let himself get out of shape over a few months offseason. That’s Hughes, Pineda and anyone else. We heard “rumors” Gary Sanchez came to camp 15 lbs overweight but hopefully that was BS. All the more reason why I love Mason from afar…Hitting the gym all winter with a plan to address his physical opportunity … Upper body strength. He tweeted yesterday “I want it all.”. He’ll get it with his approach.

  • Another Bronx Dynasty

    Can Mason Williams become Berniw Williams II ?

    • Paul VuvuZuvella

      Maybe less power but more defense. Bernie’s power was “artificial” … At least that is what I have always believed.

      • G

        He’ll steal more than Bernie too. Pre-power Ellsbury seems like the best comparison to me. He has a chance to develop that power as well.

    • CS Yankee

      No, but maybe he can be Joltin Joe II, aka Mashin Mason!

  • forensic

    Really, people have to make excuses for him now? Nothing was stopping him from getting off his apparently fat butt and working out himself. Nothing was stopping him from working all offseason before this one particular date. What a farce this has become. Didn’t like the trade from the start and it’s not getting any better yet

    • jjyank

      And you know all this for a fact? How do you know that nothing was stopping him? Maybe the Mariners stopped him by telling him to rest all winter. Maybe he was told not to do anything by both teams before the trade became official. Didn’t that rule 5 guy Meyers hurt his shoulder working out this past winter? So maybe he was told to continue to do nothing while they finalized the trade. Maybe the Yankees did or did not tell him more stuff after the trade.

      I am going to say this loudly, so everyone can hear it: WE DO NOT HAVE ALL THE FACTS. We likely have a very small percentage of the facts in reality, so if you want to not like the trade, fine. But don’t do so based on something you know very little about.

      • mustang


        You would think Yankees fans would be use to hearing excuses for their young pitchers God knows we been hearing them for Joba for years.

  • http://twitter/TheRealJeromeS Jerome S.

    Is it just me, or do people only/always bring up weight when a player is under-performing? I believe that there may be a bit of a cause-correlation mistake going on here. All baseball players, for the most part, are large men; likewise, their weights fluctuate both within and outside of the season. I’m sure that they all have a target range, but in general I would not be surprised if some players showed up to camp having gained upwards of fifteen pounds only to garner little notice.
    Additionally, as I’m sure we all realize, there is a big difference between muscle and fat. Joba Chamberlain was clearly fatter; As for Pineda, quite frankly I can’t tell, though I’m unfamiliar with him.
    Nevertheless, the problem with Pineda is a shoulder tendon, related to his abrupt change in workout schedule. This is not directly related to weight at all as far as I know, and unless something else happens I don’t think that should be considered.

    • Ted Nelson

      It very much could be related to weight. Weight directly relates to conditioning, and the shoulder might also relate to conditioning.

      Weight does mostly come up with performance (although Prince Fielder gets plenty of crap about weight and he plays 162 games at a high level), but that doesn’t mean it’s not a problem. Not being in shape can definitely lead to problems.

  • qwerty

    I think Pineda’s violent delivery has more to do with his health issue than being out of shape. I wouldn’t be surprised if he has more problems in the future.

  • DirtyWater

    Okay I’ll accept this article for what its worth.

    SO.. how do you explain why Pineda couldn’t win after the all star break last season?

    Don’t try and BS us with run support…he wasn’t good.