TAMPA, Fla. - Michael Pineda says finally, at long last, he's the pitcher the Yankees thought they were getting.
"I'm the same Michael Pineda," the 25-year-old righthander said Monday after a workout at the team's minor-league complex. "I'm feeling 100 percent right now. My body is in the perfect shape. I'm ready to go."
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The "same" Pineda refers to are his first 17 starts of 2011 with the Mariners, when he went 8-5 with a 2.58 ERA and a 1.01 WHIP, held opposing hitters to a .193 batting average and struck out 106 in 108 innings. But he went 1-5 with a 5.71 ERA in his final 11 starts that season and wound up 9-10, 3.74.
In January 2012, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman pulled the trigger on a megadeal that included top prospect Jesus Montero to land Pineda. The trade hasn't paid off for either team, as Montero has been a bust and Pineda hasn't thrown a big-league pitch for the Yankees. He showed up overweight for his first camp, was shut down with shoulder trouble and eventually had surgery for a torn labrum. He made 10 starts at three minor-league levels in 2013.
When the 6-7 Pineda showed up in Tampa a week ago, he was noticeably slimmer. He said he's 260 pounds, his preferred weight and the one he pitched at for most of 2011.
"I'm feeling stronger and my shoulder is feeling good," he said. "I'm here and I'm ready for competition, and I want to help my team this year."
And put the frustration of the last two years behind him.
"It [was] very hard for me because I was traded, I was excited to pitch in New York, I had never pitched in New York, so I'm very, very excited to play in New York," Pineda said. "You know, this is the best team [in baseball]. I had the surgery, I haven't pitched in two years. It's been a little hard for me . . . I'm happy because I'm here early and I'm feeling ready to go."
Cervelli mum on A-Rod
Francisco Cervelli, among those suspended last summer in the Biogenesis scandal, called the 2013 season "a disaster'' but said the broken right hand he suffered last April that never got better is "100 percent" and that he is looking forward to winning the job of backup catcher.
Cervelli declined to make any statement regarding Alex Rodriguez, who finally accepted his suspension Friday. According to multiple reports last summer, Rodriguez, or his representatives, leaked Cervelli's name, among others, to investigators.
"I have no comments about that," Cervelli said before breaking into a tight smile. "If you guys want to know, call him."