6 Things Michael Pineda Must Do ASAP to Salvage a Big Yankees Career
For Michael Pineda, this year hasn’t been exactly ideal.
Showing up overweight to spring training, avoiding media, getting hurt and having surgery and then getting a DUI all have added up to a rough summer for the once-prized pitcher.
But all is not lost. In fact the only thing Pineda has actually lost is a year of baseball and most likely his driver’s license.
He hasn’t lost a game yet for the Yankees, but then again he hasn’t won one either.
So what can the young man do to reach the status of Yankee legends such as Andy Pettitte or David Cone?
I’m not sure.
What I am sure of, though, is that Pineda can salvage his career with the Bronx Bombers.
And here are six ways that young Michael can do it.
This is the closest Pineda has gotten so far to the mound in the Bronx.
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First and foremost, Michael Pineda has to get healthy before he ever wants to succeed wearing the pinstripes.
Shoulder surgery is not something to take lightly ever, never mind while rehabbing.
Unlike Tommy John surgery that has a track record of recovery and success after recovery, shoulder surgery doesn’t quite have such proven results.
Recovering back to major league form after this kind of surgery won’t be easy, and I’m not so sure Pineda has been working as hard as he should be.
If he ever wants to be a top-end starter for the Yankees, working to get healthy is the first step.
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I think this one is pretty simple.
Last week Pineda, who is still only 23 years old, was arrested for DUI after being pulled over for driving without headlights on around 2 a.m.
Driving under the influence is not only against the law, but it shows the immaturity and carelessness of this young pitcher.
Pineda isn’t traveling with the team and hasn’t played in a game since the spring, but that doesn’t excuse him from his actions.
If Pineda wants to even see the big leagues again, he is going to need to grow up.
Use Veteran Help
A guy like Pettitte won't always be around to mentor Pineda.
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The Yankees have become known for taking veterans in the twilight of their careers and finding a spot to place them.
Michael Pineda is young and knows how to throw the ball hard.
But in the major leagues, it doesn’t matter if you throw hard because hitters can still hit.
Pineda is surrounded by guys, such as Freddy Garcia and Andy Pettitte, who have been around the big leagues a lot longer than Pineda has.
He has talent, but if he can learn how to pitch and combine the mental aspect of pitching with his lights-out stuff, Pineda can be scary good.
But this goes back to the aforementioned maturity (or lack thereof) and the need to get healthy and ready to throw again: He needs to be back on the team for veterans to teach him.
Take Advantage of Being a Yankee
Reggie Jackson is one of many former Yankees who had to deal with New York's bright lights.
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Being a member of one of the most storied franchises has its advantages and disadvantages.
The New York media has clearly been a disadvantage for Pineda, who has struggled to deal with all of the lights of the Big Apple.
But something Pineda needs to realize is that the Yankee organization is full of former players and past greats who can help the rising star both on and off the field.
Guys like Ron Guidry and Bernie Williams can be a call away for a young pitcher like Pineda, who is obviously struggling to cope with the microscope he is under.
If Pineda asks for help or accepts advice from the guys who have done it before, he can learn valuable lessons and potentially do some really great things in the Bronx.
Get in Shape
Pineda needs to return to this kind of shape if he's going to succeed.
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Last spring, after the four-player trade that sent Jesus Montero to Seattle and Michael Pineda to New York, Pineda was overweight.
Although the amount that Pineda was overweight was undisclosed, he was nonetheless out of shape.
His 94-98 mph fastball wasn’t there, and Pineda simply looked subpar during the spring.
Then he got hurt.
Now for some Yankee fans, Pineda is out of sight, out of mind, giving him a great chance to quietly get in shape and be ready for the 2013 season.
But obviously Pineda lost that opportunity to fly under the DL radar when he was arrested for DUI.
So now Pineda needs to get in shape and stay in shape. If he can do that, he will have a better chance of avoiding an injury (such as a groin or hamstring strain), and he will keep himself mentally healthy as well.
He just has to get there first.
Find That 2011 Form
Pineda was able to blow a fastball by A-Rod, one of the league's best hitters.
In his 2011 rookie season, Michael Pineda was on the All-Star team, boasted a 3.74 ERA and ranked fifth in the voting for American League Rookie of the Year.
Now, a year later, he showed up for spring camp overweight, got hurt and had shoulder surgery.
Pineda’s fall from grace has been fast and harsh since reaching New York, especially with his DUI charge most recently.
Although he was still a little raw in 2011, Pineda was good. With a high 90s fastball, a quality slider and a mid-80s changeup, he had a solid repertoire.
But Pineda needs to get back to that repertoire, fine-tune it and perfect it. If he can do these three things, Pineda can win multiple Cy Young Awards and be a Yankee superstar.
Now it won't be easy getting back to the form he had in 2011, especially coming off of shoulder surgery.
However, if Pineda can grow up, get healthy and learn a few things from veterans, he will be able to salvage a big Yankees career.