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Michael Pineda has a torn labrum; shoulder surgery scheduled

Apr 25, 2012, 4:56 PM EDT

Some pretty bad news for the Yankees’ young starter, who had an MRI yesterday:

Jon Heyman just tweeted that the tear is “pretty severe.”

The labrum — which is in the shoulder — is not a good injury for a pitcher to have. Indeed, Tommy John surgery can represent less of a long term risk to a pitcher than severe shoulder injuries can. His season is definitely over at the very least.

In the wake of a Jon Paul Morosi article assessing the Jesus Montero-Michael Pineda trade there was a lot of back and forth on Twitter this morning talking about just how premature such assessments were. I agree that, given how much control the Yankees have over Pineda — five years at this point — it is kind of crazy to declare a trade winner. But man, this is not the way anyone in New York wanted things to start out.

UPDATE:  Let’s head one conspiracy theory off at the pass:

UPDATE II: Grant Brisbee has a rundown of some past horror stories — and success stories — involving pitchers who had torn labrums.

  1. manifunk - Apr 25, 2012 at 4:59 PM

    Per scouting guru Jason Churchill:

    “Word is, the tear is fairly severe. If that is the case, he’s done. Be surprised if he is ever anything more than a back-end guy.”

    Yikes

    • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Apr 25, 2012 at 5:14 PM

      That is terrible. I hope he’s wrong this time.

    • bigleagues - Apr 25, 2012 at 9:31 PM

      Two words: stem cells.

    • antifreeze27 - Apr 26, 2012 at 2:10 AM

      So long-term looks more like Ben Sheets than Stephen Strasburg?

  2. mybrunoblog - Apr 25, 2012 at 5:04 PM

    Who performed the physical on this guy 5 months ago? Doctor Seuss ? Yankees should file a grievance with MLB if Mariners knew this guys was damaged goods.

    • manifunk - Apr 25, 2012 at 5:05 PM

      Pineda has had a busy 5 months between gearing up for the season and pitching in spring training. It’s highly unlikely that he was “damaged goods” coming over from the Mariners.

    • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Apr 25, 2012 at 5:06 PM

      Plus he would’ve had to pass a physical for the Yankees to complete the trade.

      • dondada10 - Apr 25, 2012 at 7:49 PM

        Right, but just playing devil’s advocate:

        After complaining of soreness, Pineda was shut down and given an MRI. It didn’t show any damage and rest was advised. When he resumed throwing, he felt further discomfort.

        It wasn’t until after some sort of test with dye was performed that the tear was revealed.

        Likely, an MRI and not the dye test is done when a player is traded and he takes a physical.

        There’s no saying the tear wasn’t there. And if it grew to be “severe”, then he was pitching with it for a while.

      • bigleagues - Apr 25, 2012 at 9:38 PM

        Having some familiarity with this stuff, I’d say you are right in the ballpark.

        The question would be, how long did the Mariners believe he was suffering from tendonitis for . . . and if they suspected it, say, way back in early August, how much effort did they put into examining if it could have been something more?

        The thing that stands out rather suspiciously to me right now is that either Girardi is a phenomenal actor or he really didn’t suspect anything more than tendonitis. If Girardi really didn’t suspect anything more than tendonitis, then it’s quite likely that Cashman didn’t either.

  3. baseballisboring - Apr 25, 2012 at 5:04 PM

    I don’t wish injuries on anyone…but I remember being so bummed when the Yankees made this trade, cause Pineda is such a huge guy with such electric stuff, I would’ve loved if the Sox had been able to make a play for him, or even just be able to follow his career with some other team.

    But uh…I’m really not as bummed anymore.

    • Ben - Apr 25, 2012 at 5:07 PM

      You’re an asshole. It sucks when this happens to any young, exciting pitcher, regardless of who he pitches for.

      • baseballisboring - Apr 25, 2012 at 5:18 PM

        I’m not saying I’m like, happy he’s injured. I’m saying I was really not looking forward to facing him in the AL East in the near future…hence being bummed they signed him. Doesn’t seem like that’s a huge concern at this point. I don’t see how that makes me an asshole.

      • baseballisboring - Apr 25, 2012 at 5:19 PM

        I definitely feel bad for Pineda on a personal level.

      • stex52 - Apr 25, 2012 at 5:21 PM

        You should. He’s a kid, and they’re talking like his career is over. That stinks, no matter who he pitches for.

      • baseballisboring - Apr 25, 2012 at 5:31 PM

        ^ I just said I did, didn’t I?

        My point was that, you know, if I had the choice to reverse this move for the Yankees, I ABSOLUTELY wouldn’t. They gave up a potential stud hitting prospect and it looks like they might get nothing in return (not to get too ahead of the situation). As a fan of an AL East team, sweet deal. If Pineda is gonna flame out somewhere, wayyy better it happens with the Yankees than the Mariners, for me personally, and all fans of other AL East teams. Of course I feel bad for Pineda personally. He was like, my favorite up and coming pitcher when he was with the Mariners.

      • bigleagues - Apr 25, 2012 at 10:34 PM

        A bunch of people who aren’t doctors and sports trainers are talking like Pineda’s career is over. Clemens and Schilling had it early in the careers and came back as good as new . . . while Chris Carpenter had it later in his career and came back strong.

        The point is, I think it’s far more stretch to assume he’ll never pitch again, then to be optimistic that while he has a long road to recovery, he’ll be pitching in Yankees Stadium some time next season.

        Plus, there is always platelet rich plasma injections (aka adult stem cells injections).

        For any baseball fan that finds this stuff fascinating, as I do . . . this accounting in SI by CJ Nitkowski, who last year had the same same procedure that Bartolo Colon did, is a MUST read.

        http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2011/writers/the_bonus/08/02/nitkowski/index.html

        It’s not clear to me whether Pineda anterior torn labrum is the same injury area that Colon and Nitkowski received their PRP treatment in, but colon was reportedly throwing a baseball within 6 weeks after having his arm hanging for several years.

        The World Anti-doping Agency had approved a method of PRP which Nitkowski’s doctor used on he and Colon last year. Thus it’s rather intriguing, if not downright curious that Cuza and Pineda would choose a conventional course of action so quickly.

      • bozosforall - Apr 26, 2012 at 2:00 AM

        He’s a Red Sox fan. Being an asshole goes hand in hand with that. No surprise there.

  4. manifunk - Apr 25, 2012 at 5:06 PM

    “But if pitchers with torn labrums were horses, they’d be destroyed”

    http://www.slate.com/articles/sports/sports_nut/2004/05/labrum_it_nearly_killed_him.html

    • doctagee - Apr 25, 2012 at 6:28 PM

      You realize that that articler was 7+years old right? Things are much better these days, although the injury is much worse for a pitcher than a positional player.

  5. yankeesgameday - Apr 25, 2012 at 5:07 PM

    Bigger than anything else, the reason the Yanks traded montero is because of their commitments to too many players into their early 40s so they don’t have room for a real DH. Were looking at 7 years of DH by platoon so Arod and anyone else can be given days off. Montero wasn’t their idea of a catcher so had no room for him at DH.

    • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Apr 25, 2012 at 5:48 PM

      It is true that they traded Montero because they had no place for him, but he was still a valuable trade chip. If they had not made this deal, they could have traded him for someone else similarly valuable.

  6. bigharold - Apr 25, 2012 at 5:14 PM

    I love how Heyman, (a renown BS artist) and others having nothing to do with the Yankees are already writing this guy off. Wishful thinking?

    • manifunk - Apr 25, 2012 at 5:33 PM

      Or, you know, just the long track record of broken pitchers who have failed to come back from this surgery.

  7. phukyouk - Apr 25, 2012 at 5:26 PM

    can someone please post a recovery timeline for this king of surgery? is he done for 2012?

    • Ben - Apr 25, 2012 at 5:34 PM

      He’s probably done forever.

      • yournuts - Apr 25, 2012 at 5:54 PM

        Ben, simply not true. He will return next year. Will he have the same stuff? Nobody knows. When pitchers first had Tommy John Surgery they were considered through or at least not the same pitcher. Now they end up better. It is a crapshoot now, we will see how he progresses.

      • Ben - Apr 25, 2012 at 5:55 PM

        He will probably pitch again, you’re right. But he’ll probably be an empty shell of his former self.

    • beefytrout - Apr 25, 2012 at 5:41 PM

      “His season is definitely over at the very least.”

      • Ben - Apr 25, 2012 at 5:48 PM

        Did none of you read the article manifunk posted? Will Carroll is THE guy when it comes to baseball injuries, and he makes it totally clear a torn labrum is the kiss of death.

  8. bigleagues - Apr 25, 2012 at 5:41 PM

    OK, well I’ll pick up the conspiracy from the point of this trade going down . . . MAYBE Seattle didn’t know anything about it.

    More likely Cashman and the Yankees DID NOT do their due diligence with regard to physical examination.

    There have been plenty of examples of young flamethrowing pitchers being overused to early into their MLB career and causing severe if not permanent damage.

    That Pineda’s velocity dropped precipitously in the second half and the Mariners were willing to include Jose Campos certainly raises eyebrows as to whether the Yankees were aware they were receiving damaged goods and wanted one of the top pitching prospects in baseball as part of them taking the risk on Pineda.

    This will be interesting to follow over the coming months.

    • bigleagues - Apr 25, 2012 at 10:47 PM

      Listen y’all . . .

      Prior to this season I had NEVER drafted nor had a Yankees player on any of my teams in 20 years of playing fantasy baseball.

      This year I decided to snag Pineda in the 1st round of my keeper league draft with the idea that if the Yankees had traded for him, then they must have been confident that his velocity issues were conditioning based. Otherwise I would have steered clear.

      Well God has spoken and we will be reinstating our zero-tolerance for Yankees players on our roster . . . for life.

      So yes I’m pissed at Cashman – because I generally like and respect the guy and he let me down (as a Red sox fan – see how twisted this fantasy baseball crap is?).

      Plus, having spent the afternoon reflecting on the Pineda injury further and reading up on recovery stories, every pitcher in professional baseball is pitching with tears of one degree or another to their throwing shoulder labrum. With recent advancement in labrum repair procedures I’m more far optimistic then pessimistic that Pineda will eventually recover.

      It’s just the quick decision to have conventional arthroscopic surgery has me a bit perplexed.

  9. Brian Donohue - Apr 25, 2012 at 5:42 PM

    They better hope old man Petitte has a few more wins in him. This is good news for Toronto: with the Sawx in chaos and Yankees losing their future ace, the Jays are looking better and better.

  10. ejannetta - Apr 25, 2012 at 6:01 PM

    Sorry! I have to believe the Yankees got taken to the cleaners on this one….hard to believe
    Seattle didn’t know something was up….just saying.

    • jwbiii - Apr 25, 2012 at 8:13 PM

      So you’re saying that the Yankees have $210m player payroll and a 10 cent medical staff?

  11. yournuts - Apr 25, 2012 at 6:01 PM

    This isn’t good news Brian Donahue, your a simpleton. Yea, your a simpleton to use this terminology of “good news”. This is a kid who’s future is up in the air. Only a__holes are so competitive that they would call someone going down with an injury as good news! If I were you I’d keep your mouth shut because there is something called KARMA.

    • kinggw - Apr 25, 2012 at 7:50 PM

      Relax, he said good news for Toronto, not good news that he’s injured. Are you so anal that you cant follow that logic? The only simpleton here is you.

      • yournuts - Apr 25, 2012 at 10:39 PM

        anyone who thinks it’s good news for anyone is anal. Does the shoe fit you?

  12. randygnyc - Apr 25, 2012 at 6:25 PM

    Listening to local sports radio, they have said that although the labrum is torn, his rotator cuff is fully intact. If the labrum can be repaired orthriscopically, he’ll be back. Just not this year, of course.

  13. illegalblues - Apr 25, 2012 at 6:31 PM

    Labrum tears are about as bad as it gets for a pitcher but there are certainly cases of hurlers coming back and throwing well after having surgery.

    Erik Bedard is throwing well, Chris Carpenter won a Cy Young and put up several great seasons, Jon Rauch has been as effective as he was previously. Anibal Sanchez has come back with just as good of stuff and command after having some hiccups on the way back.

    It’s not a good thing, by any measure. But it’s not really a kiss of death either. I worry about Pineda’s conditioning though. The work to have any chance of getting back from this will be intense.

    • randomdigits - Apr 25, 2012 at 6:51 PM

      He can but honestly 2014 is a lot more likely then 2013.

      • illegalblues - Apr 25, 2012 at 6:58 PM

        i’d agree with that

  14. drewzducks - Apr 25, 2012 at 6:50 PM

    Ouch. And Carl Crawford thought he had a bad day. As one Yankee fan I know would say…DELICIOUS.

  15. mianfr - Apr 25, 2012 at 6:55 PM

    Wow, that’s awful. Shoulders are just not easy to fix… I always tell people you can fix an elbow, not a shoulder, but I really hope I’m wrong here.

    I also have to feel that Seattle knew a little bit. Even for other good prospects, teams just don’t trade away their young aces after only a season in the bigs.

  16. mariner425 - Apr 25, 2012 at 7:07 PM

    Buy low, sell high.

  17. offseasonblues - Apr 25, 2012 at 7:27 PM

    … a mix of question and comment …
    Fatigue can lead to injury. Isn’t it possible that Pineda experienced fatigue in the second half last year and then at some point pushed too hard before recovering? I don’t know what the timing would be, but it seems entirely possible that he took his shoulder right to the edge in the first half of 2011, fatigue forced him to dial back, but continuing to pitch prevented correct recovery. Could he have passed a physical? I would guess yes, and that the Mariners may have guessed at trouble ahead, but were not technically dealing damaged goods.

    I wonder how many pitchers go through something very similar and do recover and we never hear about them because. When the trade was announced I wasn’t quite as bummed as bbisboring (though I understand his comments, it may have been unwise to post them in mixed company) because I thought there was a chance that Pineda was a flash in the pan.

    Also, given that sports medicine is continually evolving, we probably shouldn’t write this guy off, regardless of our rooting interests.

  18. washstnative - Apr 25, 2012 at 7:37 PM

    WOO HOO!
    CHALK ONE UP AGAINST THE EVIL EMPIRE…
    Sorry Pineda that kinda tears… whoops I mean blows.
    Something goes the Mariners way for once–maybe

  19. bbil2012 - Apr 25, 2012 at 7:41 PM

    One of the biggest things he’s got on his side is his age-23. My 24 year old son just went through this. He’s doing great now. Not an MLB player but an HVAC tech.This work involves a lot of contorting and arms held straight over his head supporting ductwork,etc. Like I said he’s doing great. Good surgeon and do all the PT 100%. Pineda could come out of this allright and continue to be successful pitching.

    • jwbiii - Apr 25, 2012 at 8:20 PM

      I wish your son good luck and health.

      • bbil2012 - Apr 25, 2012 at 9:38 PM

        Thanks from both of us.

  20. xmatt0926x - Apr 25, 2012 at 8:20 PM

    The only reason I lean a little towards the conspiracy theories is that as I recall nobody could make any sense out of why the Mariners were so willing to trade what appeared to be an absolute horse of a pitcher for a likely DH. Have the Yankees confirmed that they gave him a physical? If I remember correctly (I might be wrong) the Phillies traded for that stiff Freddy Garcia (traded Gio Gonzalez I think) without giving him a physical and he was damaged goods coming from the White Sox.

  21. hollywoodeggers - Apr 25, 2012 at 9:12 PM

    For those of you wondering why the mariners were so willing to trade him you just need to look at the pitchers on their double a roster. They have 3 future aces getting ready. They however have zero food offensive prospects.

  22. spudchukar - Apr 25, 2012 at 9:13 PM

    How about some modicum of sanity here. Shoulder injuries, particularly labrum tears, do not have the return rate of TJ surgeries, however it isn’t a death knell. Pineda is young, big and strong, and if he works hard to recover, then the likelihood, that he can resemble his rookie campaign in Seattle is still a good bet. Not that he will be any help to the Yanks this year, nor for the first part of 2013.

    The Yanks now know that they need help, so some things become clearer. If New York hopes to capture flag #27, then additions to the pitching staff will either rest with the highly touted Betances or Buenelos, or a trade that garners them someone who can keep them in games, to get to a very good bull pen. They cannot expect to outscore their opponents every night, especially with the probability of a healthy, aged core unlikely.

    Garcia and Hughes are not good enough to make most teams rotations. Nova is serviceable, but expecting Kuroda to be #2 quality is simply hoping, and Sabathia continues to more resemble a #2 than an ace. Pettite may help, but even that is more hope. The truth is the Yankees do not just need one quality starter, they need two, and the bullpen which is rapidly developing into the best, will show the stress in the second half if they continue to be taxed like they have in the first 3 weeks.

    • bozosforall - Apr 26, 2012 at 2:07 AM

      Worry about your own team, spudcrapper.

      • spudchukar - Apr 26, 2012 at 8:12 AM

        Did I miss the memo that made you “hall monitor” of HardballTalk.com, or are Yankee fans so blinded by their own sense of self-importance that they actually believe they deserve providence of all things Yankees.

        So Bozo, just to clear things up for you, I will continue to assess the weaknesses, poor play, and analysis of ALL teams, be they Cardinals or not. So ready your yourself. You may have convinced yourself you warrant dominion over this blog, cause you are from New York, but your painfully thin-skinned warnings have as much of a chance of being recognized and or heeded, as your pitiful starting pitching staff has of shutting down second division AAA teams.

  23. randygnyc - Apr 25, 2012 at 10:22 PM

    Spudchukr- I don’t know what they’d have to do to capture their 27th flag, perhaps a time machine? All the way back to 2009, maybe?

  24. randygnyc - Apr 25, 2012 at 10:27 PM

    Al Leiter talked about coming back from this surgery. He had it 20 years ago, and came back throwing 97. The technology and procedures are better today. Letter said today that it’ll come down to rehab and mechanics.

    That said, pined a has made no money in baseball. I’d expect that he’d be as hungry as anyone could be. It’s not like he’s been 10 million a year for the last 10 years and might not have the inspiration. Just a thought. I may stop in to see him in the hospital. I’ll let you know if I’m successful.

  25. cackalackyank - Apr 25, 2012 at 10:40 PM

    OK, maybe Seattle doesn’t know about this injury when the trade happens, but maybe it is time to IMPROVE the physical that happens when trades are made. To borrow a phrase…”we have the technology”. This might be a benchmark case to stop teams getting blindsided by stuff like this. In this case it is the Yankees, and while it is not great for them, they are an organization that can absorb this a little easier. Just imagine the **** that would be hitting the fan if it had worked out that Pineda was heading TO Seattle. A team with less resources could really be in trouble with something like this. From now on when a Starter is being dealt, a formula based on years the receiving team will have control, the number of pitches recorded in the past “x number of seasons” and other factors could be developed to determine the level of physical the starter receives, and apparently and MRI with contrast needs to be included at a certain trigger point. Obviously I am just “spit balling” here (no pun intended),but I think it might be a thought for the next CBA, because I am guessing it would have to be worked into that. So anyone else want to unretire?

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