Michael Pineda shakes off rust, shows 'good life' for Class A Tampa

Michael Pineda delivers a pitch in the bullpen Michael Pineda delivers a pitch in the bullpen during the first day of spring training at George Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Fla. (Feb. 12, 2013) Photo Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams, Jr.

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LAKELAND, Fla. -- Try not to get too excited, Yankees fans. But this is what a scout from a rival American League club had to say Sunday after Michael Pineda's first minor-league rehab outing:

"His fastball had life," said the scout, who requested anonymity. "His fastball had good life to it. Looks like the guy I saw in [Triple-A] Tacoma a couple of years ago . . . Unfortunately for us."

Pineda, who is coming back from surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder, pitched 4 1/3 innings for Class A Tampa against the Lakeland Flying Tigers on an oppressively hot afternoon at Joker Marchant Stadium.

Pineda threw 68 pitches, 42 for strikes. His fastball touched 95 miles per hour, according to a scout's radar gun, and averaged 90 to 92. He was charged with one unearned run; it scored from first base after he left the game. Pineda allowed two singles: a bunt hit and a bloop to right. He walked one and struck out four.

It's hard to imagine it going better for the 24-year-old, who has never thrown a pitch for the Yankees after being acquired from the Mariners in a deal that included coveted prospect Jesus Montero in January 2012.

"I feel pretty good," Pineda said. "Very excited. Long ago when I pitched in a real game. It's good. I'm feeling normal. Everything's coming. Everything's good."

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Pineda was supposed to begin his 30-day rehab assignment Saturday night, but the game was rained out. General manager Brian Cashman -- who called Pineda's torn labrum "a tragic diagnosis" when it occurred -- has said Pineda will need five to six rehab starts before the Yankees decide whether to add him to the rotation in Triple-A or the major leagues.

"The important thing is my shoulder is feeling good and I can throw," said Pineda, who went 9-10 with a 3.74 ERA for Seattle and made the All-Star team as a rookie in 2011. "My shoulder is ready for pitching."

After a 1-2-3 first inning throwing mostly fastballs, Pineda broke out his slider in a long second inning. He threw 25 pitches in the inning; Yankees senior pitching instructor Greg Pavlick said Pineda would have been pulled if he had reached 30.

"The second inning, he threw a lot of pitches," said Pavlick, a former Mets pitching coach. "I thought he came out of his delivery a little bit. But he stayed on line better starting in the third. Better angle on his pitches, better slider, better changeup. I thought he did well."

Said a scout: "Once the guy bunted, it threw him out of rhythm a little bit. He went from the windup to the stretch. Other than that, I thought it was fine. He got back into it with a strikeout."

Pineda's next rehab outing is up in the air, according to a text message from Cashman, who was not in attendance. Tampa is off next weekend because of the Florida State League All-Star Game. Pineda could throw for Charleston of the South Atlantic League.

If all goes well, Pineda will move up the ladder and pitch for the Yankees and at Yankee Stadium, another thing he has never done.

Said the rival scout: "I expected to see some red flags. None that I saw. The arm action looked good. All the check marks you want to cross off for a guy's first outing after a long time, the checkmarks were all there. He threw strikes, competed, held his velocity. Looked good. Looked good."

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