WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Joe Girardi took the slow walk to the mound to remove Michael Pineda with two outs in the second inning Monday.
Pineda took an even slower walk back to the dugout. The big righty was surprised to be removed after only 46 pitches when he was supposed to throw 75 or 80.
But 33 of those pitches came in the second inning. So Girardi, not wanting to tax Pineda, played it safe in the Yankees’ 9-3 victory over the Nationals at the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches.
“Yeah, I wanted to stay,” Pineda said. “I want to finish the inning. But Joe told me, so many pitches in this inning and it’s only spring training, so he took me out of the ballgame.”
Pineda was charged with three runs and allowed one hit and two walks. “I missed a couple of pitches,” he said. “But the command was there. I got a lot of foul balls.”
In what has otherwise been a stellar spring training for him, his ERA went from 1.80 to 3.89.
“It’s not what I’m looking for,” he said. “I want to pitch more innings today. But this happens sometime in the game. I’m feeling good and I’m working hard.”
Billy do be a hero
Girardi has been impressed with non-roster outfielder Billy McKinney, whom the Yankees acquired last summer in the Aroldis Chapman trade with the Cubs. McKinney, a lefthanded hitter who was drafted 24th overall by the A’s in 2013, went 2-for-2 and is batting .450.
“I know he doesn’t get some of the hype that some of the other guys get,” Girardi said. “But this was a first-round pick. He’s been very impressive.”
Chad Green threw 3 1⁄3 innings of scoreless relief . . . Matt Holliday hit his third home run.