Saturday April 28th, 2012
Bernie Olshansky: Exactly one year ago today, Michael Pineda was just a few starts into his major league career. He had a fastball upwards of ninety-five miles per hour and seemed to be the next Felix Hernandez in the Mariners organization. It would have been impossible to predict where he is now and what he is going through. The Yankees announced Wednesday that Pineda would miss the rest of the season due to an anterior labrum tear in his shoulder and would need to undergo arthroscopic surgery. The best-case recovery time is 12 months, making a return for Opening Day 2013 nearly impossible.
A shoulder injury is one of the worst possible injuries a pitcher could have. Compared to elbow injuries and the recovery from Tommy John surgery, the recovery from a torn labrum is a much longer and tougher process. Pineda most likely suffered this injury due to fatigue from his large workload last year (171.0 IP). The good news for Pineda is that the rotator cuff is not damaged, and the surgery is successful 85-90 percent of the time. A couple of recent pitchers who recovered successfully from this type of surgery are Curt Schilling and Chris Carpenter. Schilling had a similar injury in 1995 when he was 28 years old, which caused him to miss most of the 1995 season. For Schilling, it only took ten months to fully recover and by May 1996, he was pitching again. Carpenter tore his labrum in 2003 and made a full recovery to come back to have a great 2004 season. Pineda’s return isn’t impossible by any means, especially because he just turned 23. Talk about a sophomore jinx for Pineda — he didn’t even get to start his sophomore campaign.
Unfortunately for the Yankees, their highly touted prize in the Jesus Montero trade must be placed on the disabled list for the rest of this season. Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik claims he had no knowledge whatsoever about a possible injury for Pineda when he made the trade, so it seems that the Yankees just got unlucky. At the time of the trade, it seemed that both teams were getting a great deal for each of their needs. The Yankees needed pitching and got exactly that from Pineda with a solid 3.74 ERA in his Rookie year with 171.0 innings pitched and 173 strikeouts. This type of performance earned him All Star honors. The only concern was the large number of innings pitched, which, in my opinion, ended up doing him in. The Mariners, knowing that they were going to have sufficient pitching in the future with Felix Hernandez and highly regarded prospect Danny Hultzen, traded Pineda for Yankees prospect Jesus Montero who was ready to be on the big club after spending the majority of 2011 in the minors (tearing it up, I might add with an overall .308 average over a five-year span). For the anemic Mariners offense that needed some pop, Montero promised to help improve a club that, in 2011 ranked dead last in average, runs, slugging percentage, on base percentage, and 25th in home runs. This already perfect deal for the Mariners turned out even better sadly when Pineda went down with this injury.
Now the Yankees are stuck with an injured Pineda, and do not have Jesus Montero in their lineup (who was hitting .263 as of today, but hey, at least he’s playing). The Mariners also got pitcher Hector Noesi, who is also part of the Mariners’ rotation, and the Yankees received minor league pitcher Jose Campos, who has posted a 1.23 ERA so far for the Charleston RiverDogs Single-A team (I guess that’s the only silver lining for the Yankees). Five years from now when all of the players who were involved in the trade are established major leaguers, this may all be a distant memory. But right now for the Yankees, it hurts a lot.
**Today’s feature was prepared by Bernie Olshanksy, MLB reports Intern candidate. We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers. You can also follow Bernie on Twitter. (@BernieOlshansky)***
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