Michael Pineda has been cleared to take a big step in his long road back from shoulder surgery, as the Yankees right-hander is scheduled to begin a minor-league rehab assignment Saturday at Single-A.
Pineda has been throwing in extended spring training without any setbacks and Dan Martin of the New York Post reports that he threw 65 pitches in his last outing there.
Pineda has yet to appear in a regular season game for the Yankees, who acquired him from the Mariners for then-stud prospect Jesus Montero in January of 2012. He showed a ton of promise as a 22-year-old rookie in 2011, striking out 173 batters in 171 innings, but at this point no one seems quite sure what to expect from Pineda.
Jesus Montero batted just .208 with three home runs and a .590 OPS prior to being demoted to Triple-A Tacoma last month, but his season has taken another disappointing turn.
Greg Johns of MLB.com reports that Montero was diagnosed with a torn meniscus in his left knee and will undergo surgery next week. He’s expected to miss 4-6 weeks, which places his return around midseason.
Montero was hitting .250 (7-for-28) with three doubles, one triple, and two RBI over his first seven games in Triple-A. He has mostly played first base since his demotion, as the Mariners are almost ready to throw in the towel on the idea of using him as a catcher. However, the transition process will have to wait a few weeks.
Here’s a little twist to the news that the Mariners are going to send Jesus Montero back to Triple-A: Michael Pineda, whom the Yankees acquired for Montero only to watch him get hurt, is almost ready to begin a minor-league rehab assignment.
General manager Brian Cashman told Andy McCullough of the Newark Star Ledger that Pineda threw five innings at the Yankees’ extended spring training complex in Florida today and reached 93 miles per hour with his fastball.
Pineda has never pitched for the Yankees, missing all of last season following shoulder surgery, but he’s still just 24 years old and was excellent as a rookie for the Mariners in 2011. All of a sudden declaring a winner in that trade isn’t so simple.