TAMPA, Fla. -- Manny Banuelos thought his major league career might be over before it even started. When Banuelos found out he needed Tommy John surgery on his elbow, he felt like he may never pitch again.
Now, he is back, and believe 2014 could be his time to make the majors.
"This is my year," Banuelos said Saturday morning.
No matter what Banuelos does this spring, the Yankees should not take him on the Opening Day roster. They have thought about it a little.
"Banuelos has got that big arm," a front office source told ESPNNewYork.com as part of our three-part series. "If it's still there and the lightning still strikes then you're going to see people say, 'F--- it, bring him with us [on Opening Day].'"
The Yankees always have a win now attitude. If Banuelos is a better option than Cesar Cabral as a second lefty out of the pen after Matt Thornton, they may really talk about it. But they should not do it.
Banuelos has not pitched in games in nearly two years. He threw 24 innings in 2012, so he needs to put more mileage on his arm to make sure he is ready. He also needs to fine-tune his repertoire so he can be a more complete product when he gets to the majors. He has never dominated in the upper levels of the minors.
Even if Banuelos dominates at Triple-A, the Yankees should wait until around June and let him come up as a starter if he is ready to do that. Banuelos is a young pitcher the Yankees should nurture a little to see if they can maximize his potential.
The idea of rushing him early as a second lefty would only improve the Yankees slightly and could slow Banuelos' development significantly. He has already lost enough time.
Banuelos sounds like a guy that is determined to make an impact. He is throwing at 93/94 right now, but hopes to let it rip soon to see if he can hit 96/97 again.
He will throw a bullpen on Sunday and then a batting practice on Wednesday. He is ready to make an impact, but the Yankees should make sure he is fully seasoned for the long term.
QUESTION: What would you do with Banuelos?