MOOSIC, Pa. - Velocity? Check. Control of the breaking ball? Check. Quick postgame evaluation by the trainers? That checked out, too.
"My shoulder is really strong; it's healed," Michael Pineda said Sunday after his first rehab start. "I'm very happy and I'm ready to go now."
There already have been false starts in his rehab process, and this 58-pitch outing for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre was only one step for the righthander, who has been on the disabled list since May 6.
For now, though, all indications are that Pineda is on track to return to the Yankees soon. He said he was pain-free after allowing three hits and a walk and striking out four in 31/3 scoreless innings against the Syracuse Chiefs at PNC Field.
"I feel good and I'm ready," Pineda said with a smile, adding that he is anxious to return to the Yankees. "I know I have to , but I'm ready to pitch every five days."
Pineda, recovering from a strained teres major muscle behind his surgically repaired right shoulder, is expected to throw 80 pitches in his next rehab outing.He traveled Sunday night to New York and said he'll await word from the Yankees on where his next rehab start will be. Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and Double-A Trenton begin homestands later this week.
Pineda threw 37 pitches for strikes, allowed two doubles and needed 46 pitches to get through the first two innings. He rebounded with a quick third and was pulled after facing two batters in the fourth. He then threw seven pitches in the bullpen, bringing his total to 65.
Pineda's fastball mostly sat between 91 and 93 mph, on par with his MLB season average of 92.2. He registered 94 mph twice and recorded three strikeouts with his slider.
Pineda made the All-Star team as a Mariners rookie in 2011, but after being traded to the Yankees in January 2012, he missed the next two seasons recovering from shoulder surgery. He was impressive in four 2014 starts (2-2, 1.83 ERA, 1.02 WHIP) but soon was derailed by the injury.
He hasn't pitched in the majors since April 23, when pine tar was spotted on his neck in a start against the Red Sox, earning him a 10-game suspension. A week later, he injured the shoulder in a simulated game. He had another setback in June while rehabbing when shoulder inflammation was discovered.
If Pineda continues to progress, he will rejoin a Yankees rotation that has been without four of its five starters. Ivan Nova and CC Sabathia are out for the season and Masahiro Tanaka's return is in question.
"I feel so bad because all the starters got hurt," Pineda said. "That's hard for the teammates. I see the games, that's why I'm working so hard to come back to help us [make] the playoffs."