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Michael Pineda 'feeling strong' after rehab start in Trenton

06/26/2013 11:15 AM ET
By Lou DiPietro

Michael Pineda said he was "feeling strong" after his third official rehab start.(David Fenster)
Tuesday night, fans in Trenton saw exactly why the Yankees are so high on Michael Pineda, as the 6-foot-7 right-hander turned in a dominant two-hit shutout performance for the Thunder in his third official rehab start.

After making two starts at Class-A Advanced Tampa and one in a simulated game, Pineda moved up to Double-A and dominated Erie, holding them to four baserunners in six innings and throwing 58 of his 73 pitches for strikes.

“Today I was feeling very strong, I had good location and was very happy with my velocity,” Pineda told the Trenton media after his start. “Now I’m feeling very good and my mechanics are very good.”

According to the hurler, his plan was to conserve energy in the first few innings so he could go deeper in the game, and in doing so he felt “stronger and stronger” as the game went on. Pineda also said that he felt he had great command of his slider and changeup as well, a sign that he is close to 100 percent after missing the last season-plus with shoulder issues.

“I’m feeling more comfortable on the mound right now,” he said. “I just have to keep working, get stronger and keep my focus and make good pitches.”

Thunder manager Tony Franklin was also very pleased with his first look at the 24-year-old.

“He had good command of his fastball, his secondary pitches were very good and his pitches had a lot of depth to them,” Franklin said of Pineda. “If he continues like this, it will be very hard to keep him out the Majors.”

Pineda is roughly two-thirds of the way through his 30-day rehab clock, and while he said he is “ready” right now, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said he would be reevaluated after four or five outings, meaning there is at least one more in the cards.

Franklin admitted he doesn’t know where Pineda’s next start will be but would “love to have him again,” and the skipper may get his wish. Pineda said he believe his next start will come for the Thunder, likely Sunday in Binghamton to keep him on a five-day schedule, and with the Thunder playing a doubleheader with the B-Mets on Saturday, that would certainly help keep the rest of their rotation on schedule as well.

And, in a few weeks, Pineda might finally get the chance to do something he’s looked forward to his whole career.

“I’ve never pitched in Yankee Stadium,” he said, “and I'm very excited to pitch at Yankee Stadium. I'm working hard every day and want to be ready to pitch this year at Yankee Stadium.”

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Thanks to David Fenster of WIMG Radio in Trenton for information used in this report.
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