MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch is reporting that Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira will make his Grapefruit League debut on Thursday or Friday this week. Teixeira, who turns 34 shortly after the regular season begins, is optimistic about the health of his surgically repaired wrist, though he did say recently that he expects it to be stiff throughout the year. He played in only 15 games last season.
Hoch adds that Michael Pineda will make his spring training debut on Friday. The Yankees’ big return in the Jesus Montero trade with the Mariners, Pineda has missed the entirety of the last two seasons due to labrum surgery in his right shoulder. In his only season in the big leagues back in 2011, he impressed with a 3.74 ERA over 28 starts, resulting in a fifth-place finish in AL Rookie of the Year balloting. The Yankees are hoping he can recapture that magic and earn a spot at the back of the starting rotation.
Remember Manny Banuelos? He was once a top pitching prospect for the Yankees and then, apparently disappeared from the face of the earth. Or at least it felt like it. Now he’s in the news, however, as the Dodgers have signed him to a minor league contract.
OK, Banuelos didn’t disappear. He was traded to the Braves in 2015, had a cup of coffee with them, pitching pretty ineffectively in seven big league games, was released by Atlanta in the middle of 2016 and then latched on with the Angels. This past season he posted a 4.93 ERA over 95 innings while being used mostly as a reliever at Triple-A Salt Lake.
Banuelos pitched in the Future’s Game in 2009 and was a star in the Arizona Fall League in 2010. He was a top-50 prospect heading into 2011 before falling to Tommy John surgery in 2012. With Atlanta he suffered some bone spur problems and then some elbow issues that never resulted in surgery but which never subsided enough for him to fulfill his potential either. He suffered injuries. A lot of pitchers do.
It’s unrealistic to think that Banuelos will fulfill the promise he had six years ago, but he’s worth a minor league deal to see if the 26-year-old can at least be a serviceable reliever.