The Yankees were hoping to have Michael Pineda back in the opening weeks of June but their wait for his return is on hold.
The Yankees said this weekend he suffered a setback playing catch on Friday at the team’s minor league complex in Tampa. The setback sent Pineda to the MRI machine, which revealed the inflammation in his upper back was still there.
Pineda has not pitched since April 23 in Boston when plate umpire Gerry Davis ejected him for having pine tar on his neck. Pineda is 2-2 with a 1.83 ERA in four starts and has thrown 19 2/3 innings for the Yankees since being acquired from the Mariners in January 2012.
“I feel great last week,” Pineda said. “Especially Monday. I feel 100 percent Monday. I’m pitching two innings on Tuesday, perfect, everything is good. After the game, later in the night, I felt something. Next day, off. The second day I started to play catch and felt something. It’s not that bad. ... It’ll be OK. I feel ready Monday and Tuesday, 100 percent, 100 percent, and I’m pitching. Everything is coming good. My velocity is there, everything is there.”
“That’s a doctor’s call,” manager Joe Girardi said. “I think the last time we shut him down 10 days before he picked up a baseball, and I’m sure it will be 10 days here, maybe a little more depending on what they feel. It’s a doctor’s call. It’s not what we want. It’s very similar to what he had about six weeks ago. It’s unfortunate, but we’ll try to get him going again.”
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Teixeira out a few days
Mark Teixeira described the process of his nagging right wrist injury as going back to “square one” and while he patiently awaits the results of a cortisone injection to work effectively, Yankee fans are holding their breath.
“If the shot doesn’t work, then I’m worried,” Teixeira said.
“It’s bothered him more facing a right hander more than a left hander,” Girardi said. “So we’ll see where he’s at Tuesday.”
Teixeira’s nine home runs lead a team that has 48 home runs, which is 15 less than last season through May. It also is their lowest total through May since the 1996 team had 42 home runs.
Replacements Kelly Johnson and Brian McCann have both been a drop-off defensively. Johnson appeared at first base for the 24th time on Sunday while McCann recently made his first career start there.
“We’re a little inexperienced without him in there,” Girardi said.
That has some fans clamoring for free agent Kendrys Morales, who after June 5 will not cost whatever team signs him a first-round draft pick as compensation. Saturday marked the four-year anniversary of Morales breaking his ankle during a celebration at the plate for a game-ending home run with the Angels.
Before Sunday’s game, Girardi conceded that Teixeira's wrist has bothered him more facing a right-handed pitcher, which is not something anyone wants to hear since eight of Teixeira’s home runs and 21 RBIs have come from the left side of the plate.
Nunez also returns
While the return of Phil Hughes commanded a Friday afternoon press conference in the visiting dugout, there was another ex-Yankee who returned this weekend.
Infielder Eduardo Nunez was designated for assignment at the end of spring training when Yangervis Solarte made the team and eventually traded to Minnesota.
Nunez started Friday as the designated hitter and had an RBI single Friday and of course his helmet came flying off as he rounded first. Nunez’s helmet flew off again Sunday when he had another big hit during a six-run ninth.
Nunez came up after Joe Mauer was intentionally walked, something he said he knew was going to happen because of his familiarity with Girardi. He promptly delivered a two-run double and naturally the helmet flew off.
Nunez said he had no hard feelings toward the Yankees but did address Hughes’ struggles in his final season in New York.
“He enjoys it,” Nunez said. “You can see it in his face. Before I don’t think he [was having] fun. Everybody has a bad year. He’s human. Sometimes people say you [stink]. It happens to everybody.”
Follow Yankees beat writer Larry Fleisher on Twitter @LarryFleisher.