TRENTON, N.J. -- Michael Pineda had several spectators making like New Jersey Highway Patrol Tuesday night: Eyes affixed on the radar gun, with each reading eliciting a reaction.
"I'm feeling good and my velocity is coming back," Pineda said after his six-inning rehab outing with the Double-A Trenton Thunder. "I feel stronger and my mechanics are a little better."
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Pineda, in his fourth start since returning from last year's shoulder surgery, threw 53 of his 78 pitches for strikes. He allowed two hits, both singles, walked two and struck out four in the Thunder's 4-0 win over the Erie Seawolves.
The 6-7 righthander insisted he was pain-free throughout. Pineda maintained velocity, with a fastball clocked consistently in the low 90s on the stadium gun. He hit 95 mph on a four-seamer in the third inning with a runner on first, and his final pitch registered at 94.
"Right now I'm feeling very good and my shoulder is fine," the 24-year-old said, now 14 months removed from surgery. "I had a good changeup and my slider was good."
He allowed two hard-hit balls in the second. The first was a leadoff single and the other a liner up the middle, stopped on a dive by second baseman Jose Pirela, who flipped to second for a force to end the inning.
Pineda is on a 30-day rehab assignment, which began June 9 with a start for Class-A Tampa. He said he expects to make his next start Sunday with the Thunder.
"It's not in my control," Pineda said of when he expects to return to the majors, "but I'm ready for pitching . . . I'm excited to pitch in Yankee Stadium."
The Yankees acquired Pineda from the Mariners in a trade for catcher Jesus Montero before last season. Pineda, a rookie All-Star in 2011, had diminished velocity in spring training last year before it was discovered he had a torn labrum in his right shoulder, prompting season-ending surgery.