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Efficient rehab start puts Pineda closer to Yanks debut

TRENTON, N.J. -- Everything went exactly right for Michael Pineda on Tuesday night.

Pineda's rehab appearance with the Trenton Thunder, the first of his assignment with the Yankees' Double-A affiliate, was a mix of economical pitching, excellent command and a highly productive offense behind him. In front of a crowd of 6,189, Pineda worked quickly and with an early lead, and later with a comfortable 4-0 advantage -- which turned out to be the final score. Pineda went six scoreless innings, throwing 78 pitches. He allowed just two hits and two walks while striking out four.

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Before the game, Thunder manager Tony Franklin said that Pineda would be held to 80 pitches, or six innings, whichever happened first. All in all, this was the kind of performance the righty needed -- velocity up, command consistent.

"I had good location today. My velocity was better," said Pineda in a postgame news conference at Arm & Hammer Park.

Pineda's recovery has been under the spotlight ever since he was diagnosed with elbow tendinitis last season after being traded from the Mariners, and was promptly placed on the disabled list. The right-hander, 24, hasn't thrown a pitch in a Yankees uniform, but all signs are pointing toward that happening soon, after a successful rehab stint with Class A Tampa, and now Double-A Trenton.

"I'm feeling good," Pineda said. "Today I'm feeling stronger and my mechanics are better. I made an adjustment for my left shoulder."

Expectations are high, but what are the Yankees' expectations at this point in the process? The only thing Pineda could say was that he's pitching Sunday, and that he thinks that it will be with the Thunder, though he couldn't confirm that.

But he isn't concerned about how many more innings he needs in the Minors before joining the big club. He's taking it each day in order to get healthy.

"I have no control. I want to be ready whenever the Yankees need me. I'm ready," the pitcher said excitedly.

All of Pineda's pitches were working for him, and he made few mistakes with battery partner Francisco Arcia.

"Today, [my secondary pitches] were great," Pineda said. "My changeup today is very good. My slider too."

Going forward, Pineda is patient and determined. He's not thinking beyond the simplest task of getting the job done, and little by little, getting closer to his Yankee Stadium debut.

"I have to keep working," the righty said. "I need to be focused and make a good pitch."

Pineda smiled when asked about the day he would finally pitch for the Yankees.

"I'm very excited," he said. "I've never pitched at Yankee Stadium. I'm working hard and will be ready to pitch there."

If Pineda pitches Sunday for the Thunder, it will be on the road against the Binghamton Mets in an afternoon game.

New York Yankees, Michael Pineda