Yanks take big hit in rotation with Pineda loss

The initial reaction of any Yankees fan to news that pitcher Michael Pineda will be out the entire 2012 season due to a right shoulder anterior labral tear is understandable. Did the Yankees get damaged goods in the trade that sent their top hitting prospect, catcher Jesus Montero, to Seattle in January?

Pineda did not endear himself to the Yankees when he showed up in spring training 20 pounds overweight, but there is no evidence that the righthander had any shoulder trouble at the time of the trade that also involved the exchange of pitcher Hector Noesi to the Mariners and pitching prospect Jose Campos to the Yankees. Before any trade, players undergo a thorough physical, and no red lights went up about Pineda.

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman made it clear to reporters Wednesday that he did not blame the Mariners in any way about Pineda’s condition, which did not show up in an MRI at the time he went on the disabled list. Cashman is convinced Pineda suffered the tear during his extended spring outing last week.

“In no way do I believe that the Seattle Mariners had any knowledge of any issue prior to the trade,” Cashman said. “We got a fully healthy player. We looked at all the medical files. It’s an unfortunate circumstance. That can happen, and it happened.”

The immediate effect is that the Yankees are not as strong in pitching as they expected to be when they added Pineda and Hiroki Kuroda to the rotation and welcomed Andy Pettitte’s bid for a comeback, which now cannot come too soon. Kuroda has a terrific start Tuesday night but was out-pitched by the Rangers’ Yu Darvish. Phil Hughes, who was to start in Wednesday night’s series finale in Texas, struggled in his previous three starts (1-2, 6.75) and Freddy Garcia, who will start over the weekend at Yankee Stadium against the Tigers, has been scorched in his three starts (0-1, 9.75 ERA). Pettitte started Wednesday night for Double A Trenton but is probably at least a week away from joining the big club.

“We are pitching-deep, but like everything else, some of our guys have to get better,” Cashman said, “We have to get guys on track at the major-league level and Triple-A.”

Pineda will have an arthroscopic procedure on his shoulder May 1 at Manhattan’s Hospital for Special Surgery, performed by Dr. David Altcheck, the Mets’ team physician, assisted by Dr. Christopher Ahmad, the Yankees’ team physician.

“Shoulder surgery is challenging,” Dr. Ahmad said in a conference telephone call. “Based on what we know from Michael’s M.R.I. scan, this is a discrete tear and we do feel that the tear can be repaired arthroscopically and based on that we are optimistic we can get him recovered.”

“I’m devastated,” Cashman said. “Obviously, there’s always risk involving pitchers. Obviously, this was a big move that I pursued this winter. You always go in with eyes wide open that there’s a risk associated with pitching. It’s extremely difficult, but even more difficult for the player.”

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