Michael Pineda cleared to begin rehab assignment

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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.