Michael Pineda officially named Yankees’ fifth starter
TAMPA, Fla. — Michael Pineda has won the Yankees’ fifth starter competition, and after missing all of the last two seasons, the right-hander is finally primed to throw his first official pitches for the organization.
Pineda, 25, beat out David Phelps, Adam Warren and Vidal Nuno by going 2-1 with a 1.20 ERA in four spring games (three starts). In 15 innings, Pineda permitted 14 hits, walking one and striking out 16.
“He threw extremely well,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “It was what we wanted to see from him. He improved with each outing, and at times was dominant. We really liked what we saw.”
Girardi said that Pineda will stay back in camp to have one more spring tune-up on Sunday in Tampa before traveling to make his Yankees debut on April 5 against the Blue Jays in Toronto.
Pineda, a 2011 All-Star with the Mariners, was acquired in a January 2012 deal that shipped top prospect Jesus Montero to Seattle. The early returns were sparse, as Pineda showed up that spring out of shape and trying to manufacture velocity before sustaining a right labrum tear that required surgery.
This spring, the Yankees have been encouraged by Pineda’s velocity and poise. Girardi has often said that the ball comes out of Pineda’s hand easily, something that they did not see from him in 2012.
“He’s excited,” Girardi said. “He has worked very hard the last two years. He’s excited about it but understands he has a job to do.”
Girardi said that the Yankees will not have an innings limit for Pineda, who threw 171 innings for Seattle in 2011.
“We will watch how he’s doing and we’ll make judgments on what we have to do,” Girardi said. “This is a guy that has been to  innings before, so we know that he’s capable of handling that. It’s just, we’ve got to see how he’s responding.”
Phelps, Nuno and Warren will continue to be evaluated as relievers, according to Girardi, who said that the Yankees went into the spring with an open mind concerning all of their candidates.
“We weren’t sure what we were going to get from Michael,” Girardi said. “You look at a lot of other years, maybe one of those guys makes it as your fifth, because they all threw extremely well.
“But Michael, we thought, probably had the best spring. … We said all along, we were going to take who we feel is going to be the best in the rotation, and then we’ll figure out the bullpen.”