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Pineda: “My mechanics and my motion, everything is the same”

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Michael Pineda believes that eventually he will be everything he was supposed to be 12 months ago. He believes the fastball velocity will come back, the slider will be sharp, and he’ll be back in the big leagues to finally help the Yankees.

“One hundred percent,” Pineda said. “I saw the video when I threw my bullpen, and my mechanics and my motion, everything is the same.”

Still working his way back from last year’s shoulder surgery, Pineda has thrown one bullpen off a full mound. He said his throwing program has him scheduled to face hitters at some point in March. He could be throwing changeups off the mound as early as next week.

“He looks good,” Joe Girardi said. “It’s unfortunate – and it’s not his fault – that he’s not further along so we can see him pitch in (spring training) games. He’s right where he’s supposed to be. He’s throwing off a mound. We’re happy about that. I think he looks good. It’s a long haul when you go through what he went through.”

Pineda said he talked to another pitcher — a low-level guys in the Mariners organization — who went through the same injury and same surgery.

“He said he come back stronger and the same pitcher,” Pineda said. “The only thing you need is work hard every day and focus on the things you have. That’s what I’m doing. Be in perfect shape and you’ll be great. I’m working all year here in Tampa, and I’ll be ready for this year.”

Pineda looks thinner than he did last spring. He said he reported to camp at 260 pounds, a full 20 pounds lighter than last spring. He said he recognizes now that he wasn’t in adequate shape last spring. Girardi said he doesn’t believe the weight caused the injury, but he takes Pineda’s improved conditioning as a good sign of his dedication to the rehab process.

“The strength is coming,” Girardi said. “He’s thrown off a full mound, I believe, one time. It’s too early (to know exactly how strong the shoulder will be), and you don’t want to put (expectations) like we want to see more. It’s a slow progression, but it’s a lot further than when we saw him when he left.”

Associated Press photo