Yankees’ Michael Pineda needs shoulder surgery, will miss season

David Brown
Big League Stew

Earlier on Wednesday, Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports published a column analyzing who got the better end of the Michael Pineda-Jesus Montero trade — the Yankees or the Mariners. OK, it's a bit early to wonder that (as several readers let Morosi know) considering the deal is just a few months old. But it's also common to ask these kinds of questions and get a buzz going.

The topic became more prescient once the Yankees announced that Pineda would miss the rest of the season because of a torn labrum in his right shoulder that requires surgery. Yankees' GM Brian Cashman was quoted as saying he was "devastated" at the news.

That's about right.

Cashman and his team put a large investment into Pineda, sending a top prospect to Seattle (and not adding a top starter to the rotation another way). The Yankees' chances at winning the World Series will be damaged by this loss. Pineda's career will be affected. Cashman's reputation and record will be questioned.

There's no way to spin it, other than to say it's bad news for the Yankees, who will be relying on a comeback from left-hander Andy Pettitte even more. And for Pineda, who is just 23 years old after making the AL All-Star team as a rookie in 2011, the quality of his career is suddenly in doubt.

As Grant Bisbee points out at SB Nation, a torn labrum is a tricky injury. Pretty much every pitcher has a torn labrum to some degree. It's the nature of pitching. A severe labrum tear isn't as as bad as a torn rotator cuff, for example, but Yankees probably would prefer an elbow injury — even something requiring Tommy John ligament replacement surgery.

Still, many pitchers have rebounded from torn labrums:

Chris Carpenter is a famous success story, coming back after labrum surgery to star with the Cardinals and become something of a workhorse. Perhaps the best recovery from a labrum injury in baseball history was Curt Schilling, who had a labral tear repaired in 1995, before he was a star pitcher.

Here's more light reading on the subject. As for you conspiracy buffs, there's no good reason to believe the Mariners sent damaged goods to New York. Cashman said his team didn't see anything like the tear Pineda has in his shoulder now to what MRIs showed months ago. The definitive damage apparently came later. The next move for Cashman is damage control.

As for who'll get the best of the Montero trade now? It's still early to say for sure. Just not as early as it used to be.

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