TAMPA, Fla. — Asking most starting pitchers their goals for a given season typically elicits similar responses:
Just stay healthy.
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Michael Pineda is no different, though he does have a more specific goal in mind, one that would come with health.
“I want to throw 200 innings this year,” Pineda said after a morning workout at the Yankees’ minor league complex. “That’s my goal.”
It is not the first time the 27-year-old has stated as much and he has yet to achieve it. A year earlier, almost to the day, Pineda made the same declaration for 2015 but came up short.
The righthander seemed on his way, getting off to a 5-0 start, with a 2.97 ERA, after seven outings, and taking every scheduled turn in the rotation through July 24. A forearm strain, however, cost him just over a month of the season and Pineda never got in a rhythm after returning, finishing the year 12-10 with a 4.37 ERA in 160 2⁄3 innings.
His career-high in innings remains the 171 he threw during his rookie season of 2011 with the Mariners.
“You always want to do better,” Pineda said of his 2015. “Sometimes we have good games, sometimes we have bad games . . . now it’s a new year and a new season is coming and I want to be ready and prepared to have a great year.”
Pineda arrived in Tampa in late January and has been an almost daily presence at the minor league complex for workouts.
He showed up looking slimmed down from last season, perhaps the result of a gym he had installed in his home, allowing him to work out, he said, with “no distractions.”
“I feel pretty good right now,” Pineda said. “Every year I’m getting older and you need to keep working harder and harder, trying to learn. That’s what I’m doing.”
Pineda is part of a rotation that general manager Brian Cashman is cautiously optimistic about.
“If they do [stay healthy], there’s a lot to be excited about,” Cashman said.
What is shaping up as a powerful back end of the bullpen could help to alleviate some of the pressure on the unit, something Pineda noted when discussing the possibility of Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman forming a seventh-eight-ninth-inning combination.
“We have a great bullpen this year,” Pineda said. “You pitch six, seven innings [and leave with the lead], you have a great percent for winning the game with these three guys in the bullpen. It’s awesome.”
And the rotation?
Same old, same old.
“The rotation looks pretty good,” he said. “Great arms, great pitchers. The rotation is going to be good if everybody is healthy.”