Michael Pineda makes his case for a rotation spot

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Dogged by shoulder issues, Michael Pineda has yet to throw a regular season pitch for the Yankees since being acquired from the Mariners two offseasons ago, but he showed a glimpse of his old form last night.

Making his spring debut, Pineda tossed two scoreless innings in a Grapefruit League game against the Tigers. Topping out at 93 mph with his fastball, he allowed one hit and struck out four while throwing 21 out of 27 pitches for strikes. His slider drew raves from catcher Brian McCann and induced a strikeout from Miguel Cabrera on a check-swing.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi didn’t want to get carried away with just one outing, but he told Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News that he was encouraged with what he saw.

“We like what we saw,” Girardi said. “I don’t want to make too much of it, but I’ve said all along he looks different what we’ve seen this spring compared to a couple springs ago. He’s cleaned up his mechanics a lot. This is a good step.”

Pineda is currently competing with David Phelps and Adam Warren for the fifth spot in the rotation, but it might not be much of a battle if last night is a sign of things to come. It would be a huge boost to the Yankees if he’s finally healthy.

Pineda, 25, posted a 3.74 ERA and 173/55 K/BB ratio over 171 innings as a rookie in 2011.

Giancarlo Stanton will defend his Home Run Derby title

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The Marlins announced on Sunday that outfielder Giancarlo Stanton will defend his Home Run Derby title when the city of Miami host’s the All-Star Game festivities next month.

Stanton, 27, defeated Todd Frazier in the finals of last year’s Home Run Derby at Petco Park, hitting 20 home runs to Frazier’s 13. Stanton hit a total of 61 home runs in the Derby. This will be the third Home Run Derby in which Stanton has participated.

Stanton also went 1-for-3 with a solo home run to help the Marlins defeat the Cubs 4-2 on Sunday. He’s now batting .274/.357/.551 with 20 home runs and 49 RBI in 311 plate appearances.

Aaron Hicks to go on the disabled list with an oblique injury

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Yankees outfielder Aaron Hicks left Sunday’s game against the Rangers after four innings due to soreness in his right oblique. After the game, Hicks said he expects to go on the 10-day disabled list and miss the next three to four weeks, MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch reports.

Hicks was 1-for-2 with a single before departing on Sunday. He entered the game batting .288/.397/.515 with 10 home runs and 37 RBI in 198 plate appearances. It is by far the best season of his career.

Jacoby Ellsbury is on his way back from a concussion, so the Yankees will only have to bridge the gap in center field for a week or two. Mason Williams could draw some starts in center field in the meantime.