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Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Why not summer training for some?

Michael Pineda May 10, 2011
at Oriole Park at Camden Yards
By Keith Allison via Wikimedia Commons
Michael Pineda pitched 171 innings in 2011, his one and only Major Baseball League (MBL) season.  In the minor leagues since 2006 he has not reached 140 innings in any one season; Pineda pitched 40 innings in 2013.  Pineda is now in spring training with the Yankees who acquired Pineda from Seattle following his 2011 rookie season.  So far Pineda has had arm trouble and not thrown a pitch for the Yankees in the regular season.

So why is Pineda in spring training?  There's no way the Yankees are going to let him throw a lot of innings this season.  Even if Pineda is healthy and pitches regularly, the Yankees will shut him down at some point.  That may occur in August just when the team needs a pitching boost.

A couple of years ago Washington had that issue with Stephen Strasburg.  Despite being in contention for the MBL tournament, the Nationals shut down Strasburg who pitched 159 innings in 28 starts from April 5 through September 7, 2012.  In 2013 Strasburg pitched 183 innings in 30 starts.

In 2012 Washington was 98-64 and qualified for the tournament but lost 3-2 to St. Louis in round one.  In 2013 Washington was 86-76 and failed to qualify.  Strasburg has yet to pitch in a tournament game.

So why have all players start their training at the same time?  Doesn't it make more sense to start players, especially pitchers, who are returning from serious injury months later?  Have them report in June for summer training.  Then they can pitch through the remainder of the regular season and in the tournament.  That way neither the team nor the player needs to deal with the idea of shutting down a valuable person when he is needed most.

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