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.
Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic reports that the Pirates have decided to convert outfielder JB Shuck into a two-way player. Recent comments relayed from the club’s director of player development, Larry Broadway, indicated that the outfielder would be coached in developing his pitching skills while working at Triple-A Indianapolis.
Per Broadway, the change would be enacted to help the veteran outfielder develop some much-needed versatility in the majors, where he’s only ever been limited to outfield and DH responsibilities. Well, except for the two games in which he pitched an inning of relief: once, against the Nationals in a blowout 11-4 loss in 2016, then in a similarly painful loss to the Diamondbacks this past April. During the latter outing, he finished the game with a 13-pitch ninth inning after allowing just one hit and one walk.
Add to that one minor-league outing in 2012, and the 31-year-old Shuck has pitched just three times over the course of his 12-season career in pro ball. While he has three years of experience on the mound from his college days, he’ll need quite a bit of preparation to handle the kind of workload expected from a two-way outfielder/reliever: 20+ innings pitched over a season and 20+ games played as a designated hitter or position player.
Still, his lack of experience doesn’t seem to faze Broadway, at least not this early in the process. There’s no word yet on how soon Shuck would be expected to debut his new skillset on a major-league level.