Yankees News: Pineda progressing and Ichiro hopes for Bronx return


The New York Yankees pulled off a big-time trade last offseason finally moving catching prospect Jesus Montero to the Seattle Mariners for right-hander Michael Pineda. Pineda was ready to assume a role in the rotation when he tore his labrum forcing surgery in May. Yankees manager Brian Cashman has been very cautious when choosing words to describe where Pineda stands and how much of a factor he will be in 2013.

According to Brian Heyman of The Journal News, Pineda was in town recently and threw pitches from flat ground which pleased Cashman.

"He looked good. He’s throwing on flat ground at 90 feet, so I don’t want to get (Cashman hesitates)…All I can report is his arm was working very well, very healthy, very loose. He had zip on it. He’s in great physical shape in terms of body weight."

Michael Pineda could be ready in May or June, but Yankees general manager Brian Cashman says anything they get out of the 24-year-old righty in 2013 will be a bonus. (Image: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE)

Of course the arm is important and there is little doubt that Pineda has a lively one, but the good thing to note is that he is in good shape. The 6-foot-7-inch Pineda came to spring training last season heavier than the Yankees wanted. For Pineda, 24, it is important not only be willing to work hard at getting his arm ready for game action but to maintain a healthy frame ensuring the best chance to succeed on the mound.

As far as game action is concerned, Cashman noted that Pineda could be ready to help sometime in May or June. Cashman was non-committal to that time frame suggesting Pineda still has a long road in rehab ahead of him.

"We certainly have high hopes for him, but in terms of planning and counting on him, it’s in everybody’s interest not to do that right now and just put together as deep and strong a staff as possible and be pleasantly surprised and appreciative if we can welcome him back to the fold at some point."

Ichiro’s first choice is return to New York

Ichiro Suzuki enjoyed his 67 games in pinstripes and according to George King of the New York Post, the 39-year-old future Hall of Famer would like nothing more than to return for the 2013 season. Ichiro’s agent Tony Attanasio said in an interview that several teams are asking about his client.

"There has been a lot of interest [from teams], but he enjoyed playing for the Yankees so much it’s hard for him to say no to the Yankees. His preference is to stay there instead of going someplace else, but we will wait and see."

Ichiro was certainly a catalyst once he donned the pinstripes and quickly gained the trust of manager Joe Girardi. When he arrived in New York, Suzuki was told he would need to understand his position with the team would not be like it had been in Seattle. Ichiro took his assignment in stride, often hitting at the lower part of the order and not playing initially against lefties. Once it became obvious that Andruw Jones was not going to provide anything more offensively for the Bombers, Ichiro began to get starts against southpaws. Suzuki took off from that point, eventually finding himself hitting at or near the top of the order.

In 67 games with the Yankees, Suzuki hit .322 with five home runs and stole 14 bases. He moved from right field to left without missing a beat.

As was mentioned yesterday in discussing Russell Martin‘s situation the Yankees would like to settle with Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera before moving on to filling the positional voids at catcher and right field with Nick Swisher‘s departure. Once the Yankees have their pitching situation resolved, they’ll have a much better understanding of what they can spend in those two positions. One thing is for certain, Ichiro will not be making nearly the $17 million he earned in 2012. Plus, the likelihood of a multiyear deal is virtually nonexistent as the Yankees look to reduce payroll over the next couple seasons.