Feb 20, 2014; Tampa, FL, USA; New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi watches pitcher Michael Pineda (35) during his bullpen session during morning practice at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Michael Pineda and CC Sabathia Return to Yankees Rotation Still Unclear

UPDATE: general manager Brian Cashman confirmed C.C. Sabathia will be out until at least another six weeks, pegging his earliest potential return in July. Wayne Cavadi has the story for Yanks Go Yard.

The New York Yankees’ rotation may not look like what manager Joe Girardi had envisioned, but it should get closer to normalizing within a month. Michael Pineda seems on track to return in June and the team will not rush C.C. Sabathia, who is dealing with an injury no one is really familiar with.

Hiroki Kuroda and Masahiro Tanaka are the only two healthy starting pitchers who were named to the opening day roster. Ivan Nova is out for the season with a torn UCL, Pineda is rehabbing a back strain and Sabathia is dealing with “degenerative changes” in his right knee, the New York Daily News reported.

Sabathia had an operation Thursday with Dr. James Andrews to inject cortisone and stem cell into his knee. It’s a standard operation for such an injury, but Girardi noted the injury is not all too common.

“There’s not a lot of history on this, but because they want the procedure obviously to be as successful as possible, he is on crutches,” Girardi told reporters before Saturday’s game, according to a report from MLB.com. “It’s not because the knee is sore, it’s because they don’t want any weight on it, so my guess its we’ll evaluate him Monday or Tuesday and see where he’s at, and then we’ll go from there.”

Sabathia will be off the crutches on Monday and the team will decide what to do next, Girardi said, but it will almost certainly not involve throwing. Sabathia is eligible to come off the 15-day DL in late May and Girardi said he’d be “kinda shocked” if the left-hander returned at that time. A more realistic estimate (but probably still optimistic) for Sabathia’s return could be around Pineda’s return.

Pineda played catch at 60 feet last Saturday and is scheduled to throw 25 pitches Sunday in a bullpen session, according the MLB.com report. When Pineda initially went to the DL, Girardi estimated the righty would be back in three to four weeks. Jorge Castillo, of the New Jersey Star Ledger, reported Girardi is not expecting Pineda back until past that four-week mark, setting his ETA toward early-to-mid-June.

If the Yankees are lucky, they will get Sabathia and Pineda back around the same time, which would most likely send Matt Daley and Vidal Nuno back to the minors. That also depends on whether or not Shawn Kelley returns as expected in late May.

The Yankees desperately need rotation stability with Kuroda still searching for consistency and the mix-and-match of starters filling in for Sabathia and Pineda.

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Tags: CC Sabathia Michael Pineda New York Yankees Starting Rotation

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