BALTIMORE -- The Yankees still view Michael Pineda as a starter, but if the right situation develops in 2013 he could pitch out the major league bullpen.
"That's how I've seen him," Joe Girardi said of Pineda as a stater. "I don't see using him any other way right now, but a lot of things that have happened this year."
A baseball official with knowledge of the Yankees' thinking said it would be possible for Pineda to eventually go to the bullpen if the Yankees don't have a spot in the rotation for him. Pineda's power arm in relief could result in the trading of someone like Joba Chamberlain for a bat, or Pineda could just give the Yankees added depth in their already strong pen.
Long-term, if the Yankees determine Pineda is better than any of the five starters they have right now, he will go back in the rotation.
Pineda, 24, also could continue to work at Triple-A after his rehab ends in a week. At the moment, that seems like the most likely scenario for him.
Pineda still needs to complete his rehab from shoulder surgery that has prevented from pitching as a Yankee. He last pitched in the big leagues in 2011 when he made the AL All-Star team as a Mariners rookie.
On Sunday, Pineda only pitched three innings for Double-A Trenton. He gave up four runs on four hits, two of which were homers. When a pitcher returns from shoulder surgery, precision is often a problem. Pineda walked four and struck out four on Sunday.
"His velocity was fine, but from the box score he didn't pitch as well," Girardi said.
Let me explain:
Girardi had hoped to start Nova in one of the four games in Minnesota. That way he could give his main starters an extra day of rest. But after Phelps gave up nine runs and couldn't even make it through three innings, Girardi needed to turn to Nova to finish out the game. Nova only allowed Chris Davis' two-run homer in his 5 2/3 innings. But Nova won't be available until Thursday, so the pitching matchups against the Twins will be:
• Thursday, David Phelps (5-5, 4.95) vs. Kyle Gibson (3.00)