NEW YORK -- It's been nearly a year and a half since the Yankees acquired Michael Pineda from the Mariners, and in that time, the big right-hander has pitched no regular-season innings for New York or any of its Minor League affiliates.
On Saturday, he'll throw his first. Pineda is scheduled to begin a rehab assignment with Class A Advanced Tampa after throwing 65 pitches in an extended spring game on Monday without incident.
The Yankees have a 30-day window during which they can evaluate Pineda's recovery from a torn labrum in his right shoulder.
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said the team will measure Pineda's performance against its pitchers in the Majors and at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, then make a decision as to whether to call him up or option him to the Minors after his rehab window closes.
"Now he'll be competing with everything that's [involved with] taking the ball every five days up here," Cashman said. "By the fourth, fifth and sixth rehab start, we'll be able to compare him to what we have there versus what we have here and slot him accordingly."
The Yankees' rotation in both the Bronx and at Scranton are deep and successful, so the organization doesn't have much reason to accelerate Pineda's rehab. CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, Andy Pettitte and Phil Hughes are all locked into rotation spots, and the Yankees have plenty of other options, including Tuesday's starter, David Phelps, and current RailRiders Ivan Nova, Vidal Nuno and Chien-Ming Wang.
Cashman said Pineda's velocity has been sitting in the low 90s during his rehab, and he topped out at 94 mph during his extended spring appearance on Monday. Pineda topped out at 98 mph when he pitched for Seattle in 2011.
But Pineda is completely healthy, and Cashman said the team has no plans to convert him to a relief role. The Yankees intend to use him as a starter.
The only question is at which level.
"If he's better than anything we have up here, he'll come here," Cashman said. "If we don't think he's better than what we've got, he'll go to Triple-A."
Josh Vitale is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less