Is disaster too strong a word? OK. How about catastrophe?
In any event, "setback'' doesn't seem to do justice to the news that Michael Pineda felt what Joe Girardi termed ''weakness'' in the back of his pitching shoulder -- under prodding, Girardi admitted there was "pain,'' too -- after throwing just 15 pitches in an extended spring training game today in Tampa.
In fact, despite Girardi's attempt to deny it, what is troubling Pineda sounds an awful lot like what shelved Phil Hughes for most of the 2011 season. I chronicled an exchange I had with the manager about this three weeks ago in which Girardi tried to say they were not similar injuries.
Well, let's tote up the similarities: Shoulder tendinitis? Check. Shut down after first real throwing session? Check. Lo-V-lo? Check.
Now we'll just wait and see if Pineda's injury responds to rest and treatment -- Hughes missed three months healing his injury -- or if more drastic measures are called for. I asked Girardi today if Pineda would need another MRI. "My guess would be yes,'' he said. "But I can’t tell you what the doctor would want to do. It could be more than that, who knows?''
More than that meaning what? Additional tests? Surgery? A lost year?
We'll wait to see what the next examination of Pineda, scheduled for Monday, reveals. But in the meantime, know that while Jesus Montero hasn't set the world afire in Seattle -- he, too, missed some time with an injury -- he has at least been somewhat productive, batting .261 with two HRs and seven RBIs.
Pineda, meanwhile, has given the Yankees absolutely nothing so far. That is not his fault, but it may well be the Yankees' problem. Now, it becomes essential for Hughes and Freddy Garcia, neither of whom has pitched well this season, to get their acts together pronto, and for Andy Pettitte to make it all the way back from his 18-month retirement.
The team that had too much pitching in January suddenly doesn't seem to have enough in April.
The word for that is "mess.''