It was the easiest decision Joe Girardi has ever had to make when it comes to pitchers throwing perfect games.
The Yankees manager didn't have to worry about lifting Michael Pineda after five flawless innings Wednesday, given that it was March 15 in a Grapefruit League tilt with the Phillies. Being that five innings doubled his total for 2017, there wasn't much argument from the right-hander, either.
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Still, it was the latest development in what has been an encouraging spring for Pineda. The 28-year-old now has 14 strikeouts -- after fanning eight in his five innings Wednesday -- in 10 innings, posting a 1.80 ERA in Grapefruit League play. He's given up just four hits without issuing a walk.
The run suppression -- and home run suppression -- is perhaps most promising after Pineda's 2016 season. In 32 starts, Pineda yielded 27 dingers and owned a 4.82 ERA while going 6-12.
“We scratched our heads a lot last year,” Girardi said earlier this spring. “You look at the numbers month to month, and it doesn’t make sense. What’s been tough for Michael is finishing innings and eliminating mistakes. If you are a guy who is prone to making mistakes and they get hit out of the park ... when you make mistakes and they don’t get hit out of the ballpark, you have a chance.”
He entered spring with an inside track on a rotation gig but no guarantees. After three stellar outings, it's hard not to wonder if this is the year -- he struck out 207 batters in his 175 2/3 innings last year, after all -- Pineda is able to put it all together.
“Everybody sees his stuff. Everybody knows his stuff,” Yankees catcher Austin Romine said earlier this month. “I catch him all the time. He is fun to catch because it could be crazy numbers. He has that kind of stuff. He is going to focus on getting better.”
Dickerson Sees Spine Specialist
A Padres team already expected to be near the bottom as an offensive club could be without one of its expected run producers.
“We just thought it best to get him really thoroughly examined and figure out if there’s anything different we need to do,” Padres manager Andy Green said.
Given the dearth of talent left in San Diego after the mass exodus in recent years, Dickerson is expected to be one of the team's better offensive options in 2017. As a rookie in 2016, the 26-year-old batted .257/.333/.455 with 10 homers and five stolen bases in 84 games.
“He’s a big part of what we do,” Green said. “He’s a very professional hitter that we had the expectation was going to get middle-of-the-order-type at-bats for us this season.”
Tomas Dealing With Oblique Strain
Tomas had been sidelined in recent days with what was believed to be a lower back injury, but the test revealed the strain. Tomas presently has no timetable for his return.
Oblique injuries are notoriously problematic and offer little in the way of regular rehab times, so it's difficult to envision the 26-year-old being ready for Opening Day. A few weeks remain, so the degree of the strain could still give him time to round into shape, but the Diamondbacks are likely preparing to open the season without him.
That's a big blow after the outfielder enjoyed one of 2016's biggest breakouts, batting .272/.313/.508 with 31 homers, 83 RBI and 72 runs scored. Tomas is being counted on to hit in the middle of the D'backs order this year.
An injury to Socrates Brito further clouds the Arizona outfield picture for Opening Day, with only David Peralta and A.J. Pollock -- who's also nursing an injury -- surefire starters. Jeremy Hazelbaker, Gregor Blanco and Oswaldo Arcia are all in camp and all offer different skillsets, none of which are particularly interesting for our purposes.
Here's to hoping the injury isn't a serious one for Tomas.
Quick Hits: Martin Prado left Wednesday's World Baseball Classic game between the United States and Venezuela due to a right hamstring injury. Prado suffered the hamstring injury in the middle innings of Wednesday's contest. With just two weeks remaining until the start of the regular season, this is inopportune timing, to say the least. There is no current timetable for his return to action, but that should clarify in the next few days. Should he miss time in the regular season, Derek Dietrich could see an expanded role ... Michael Brantley (shoulder) went 1-for-3 with a double and three RBI in a minor league game on Wednesday. Brantley is steadily progressing in game action as he continues to gain strength in his surgically-repaired right shoulder and biceps. He will play in another minor league contest on Friday. While his availability for Opening Day remains an unknown, he has not suffered any setbacks in his health since the start of camp and he could see Cactus League at-bats relatively soon ... Salvador Perez will likely miss about a week due to a hyperextended elbow. All of the focus has been on Perez's knee, but it turns out that the elbow is the bigger issue right now. Either way, he's expected to be fine for the start of the season ... Nationals released C Derek Norris. The Nationals picked up Norris in a trade from the Padres over the winter, but he became expendable after the club recently signed Matt Wieters. The two sides agreed to a one-year, $4.2 million deal to avoid arbitration back in January, but because contracts through arbitration are not fully-guaranteed, the Nationals were able to release him by March 15 and only pay him $700,000 (one-sixth of his salary). He'll surely find another gig quickly, likely a backup role somewhere ... Tommy Joseph (hand) was not in Wednesday's Grapefruit League lineup against the Yankees. The first baseman was hit on the hand by a pitch Tuesday. X-rays came back negative, but it would be no surprise if he needs a day or two at the very least ... Chris Tillman (shoulder) will receive a cortisone injection in his right shoulder. Tillman felt some renewed discomfort in his shoulder while warming up for a recent bullpen session, so the hope is that the cortisone shot will get him over the hump. He'll be shut down for about 2-3 days for now ... Madison Bumgarner let up just one hit over six dominant innings Wednesday in the Giants’ Cactus League win over the Angels ... Michael Morse lit up the scoreboard with two hits Wednesday in the Giants’ Cactus League win over the Angels. Coming off a two-homer game last week, Morse is now hitting .304 with six RBI this spring but seems destined for a bench role, if any, with the Giants.