Michael Pineda strained that upper back muscle — it looked like it was near the right shoulder from where he was pointing this afternoon — and he did it throwing a pitch in a simulated game Tuesday.
“When I threw it … it was tight,” Pineda said in his first comments since the injury. “I threw two more pitches. I felt a little tight.”
He also said: “I’m coming back soon.”
But he has been shut down for 10 days. Joe Girardi said three or four weeks was a fair estimate of when he should be back pitching for the Yankees. The manager has spoken to Pineda.
“He’s down,” Girardi said. “He’s frustrated. But the good part of it is, if you’re going to have an injury as a pitcher, a lot of times it’s your elbow or your shoulder. It’s really neither. This will heal and he’ll get back out there.”
But between the 10-game suspension for pine tar use and the injury, it lessens concern over Pineda’s innings limit for the season.
“It’s not the way we wanted to do it, but it’s another way you can look at it,” Girardi said.
David Phelps will take Pineda’s place in the rotation. Phelps said he was frustrated that last night’s rainout KO’d his scheduled start and caused him to get skipped. He likes being a starter. The Yankees tried to stretch him out Wednesday, having him throw a simulated game inside of about 80 pitches.
“I think he did a pretty good job as a starter when he’s filled in,” Girardi said. “That’s what I expect him to do, do a good job.”
Two-fifths of the rotation is injured, with Pineda and Ivan Nova, who made an appearance in the clubhouse before the game in the wake of Tuesday’s Tommy John surgery.
In light of those injuries, Girardi said about the starters: “We need everyone to carry their own weight. That’s the big thing.”
Jacoby Ellsbury sat out Tuesday night’s series opener with a sore left hand, then got a day off thanks to the rain. Now he’s back in the lineup for this series finale against the Mariners.
“It was a little swollen,” Ellsbury said. “I iced it up. I was ready to go the day before. … I’m not really concerned about it.”
Robinson Cano is batting .387 in his current eight-game hitting streak. He went 1 for 5 with an RBI in Tuesday night’s boo-fest.
“It’s kind of strange to see him come up in a different uniform,” Girardi said. “It’s probably going to be that way for a little bit of time. Usually the only time I would see him coming toward me is when he was scoring a run, coming around third base. But to see him walk from the on-deck circle on the other side was really strange.
“I have a lot of respect for what Robbie’s done in this game. We know he’s a very dangerous hitter. So we need to make our pitches on him or he’s going to hurt us.”
Photo by The Associated Press.