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Cashman keeping Pineda plans close to the vest

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BRADENTON, Fla. -- Right-hander Michael Pineda is seemingly the front-runner for the fifth spot in the rotation, a decision that, as manager Joe Girardi told reporters in Panama, will be made by the end of the week.

General manager Brian Cashman said on Sunday that Pineda is "in full-bore competition to try to make this team, no doubt."

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The Yankees entered Spring Training unsure of what to expect from Pineda, who burst onto the scene as a rookie in 2011, then sat out the past two years following shoulder surgery. He hasn't pitched a full season since tossing 171 innings for the Mariners in '11, and the Yankees don't expect him to throw 200 innings this season.

"Haven't thought too strongly about that. We're in a situation where we're trying to win," Cashman said. "And if he puts himself in position to be one of the best guys for us in the front end, so be it, and we'll have to worry about that another day.

"He feels good, which makes us feel good. So he's in Spring Training mode, just knocking rust out and getting it going. It's exciting to think that at some point here, we'll be seeing a guy who can help us at the Major League level. Obviously, we all know what he was before the injury. He's making us believe we have a chance to get back to seeing that again."

Cashman declined to answer whether 170 innings would be considered a fair expectation for Pineda given his recent injury history, but he repeated that Pineda will head north with the Yankees if they consider him the best option. Cashman was reluctant to publicly discuss any sort of limitations the Yankees place on pitchers considering how much attention the "Joba Rules" received.

"I learned that by educating everybody that there's development plans in place -- that take place in every other organization at the Major League level -- it just doesn't play out the same way in New York," he said. "Whatever we choose to do, we're in a 'win now' mode, and we always try to protect our assets, even though trying to protect pitching is very difficult, as we've seen, no matter where you go. We'll keep doing that, but I guess we'll be less forthright about any restrictions that guys should have."

Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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{"event":["spring_training" ] }
{"event":["spring_training" ] }