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Michael Pineda’s New York Yankees Career Must Take Next Step in 2014

It has been a long and winding road for Michael Pineda to make his first start with the New York Yankees, but now it’s time for Pineda to take that next step in his career and become a full-time starter.

His first two seasons with the team were a total failure. Between injuries and rehab and off-the-field issues, Pineda hasn’t come close to panning out the way general manager Brian Cashman thought he would.

After all, Pineda came to the Bombers in a deal that sent former top prospect Jesus Montero to the Seattle Mariners. In that trade, the Bombers thought they might be giving up a lot in Montero but figured that Pineda‘s rookie season numbers (9-10 with a 3.74 ERA) and All-Star appearance would more than make up for it.

However, quite the opposite has happened, and the only reason there hasn’t been a Yankee fan mutiny over the fact that Montero was dealt away for zero return up until this point is because Montero himself has failed miserably with Seattle.

Not only has the once-promising youngster been abysmal at the plate after a solid rookie campaign (three homers and nine RBI with a .208 average in 2013), but he was also sent down to the minors for lackluster play and then injured his knee.

Montero was also linked to the now infamous BioGenesis clinic run by Anthony Bosch and was suspended for using performance-enhancing drugs in August of 2013 after denying rumors earlier in the season.

While many would consider Montero‘s issues a zero-for-zero exchange in terms of what the Yanks have gotten out of Pineda, at least Montero has taken the field in a game. Pineda, on the other hand, has not.

That’s why 2014 is so important. Pineda can only sit in the minors for so long until time runs out on his chances for contributing to the ball club.

Granted, Pineda will be eligible for arbitration through the 2016 season, but all this time in the minors can’t be helping the 25-year-old develop into a quality starter if he is only facing minor league bats.

At some point, Pineda has to hit a big league bump and make an impact in a meaningful way that will further his currently sputtering career.

Pineda will see plenty of competition for the final spot in the Yanks rotation, which is already full with the likes of CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, Ivan Nova and newly acquired Japanese stud pitcher Masahiro Tanaka.

While pitchers such as David Phelps, Adam Warren and Vidal Nuno have all done a solid job when given the opportunity in prime time, Pineda clearly has the potential to be a dominant pitcher with electric stuff if he can remain healthy and keep it all together.

A report by’s Andrew Marchand and Wallace Matthews points out the good news that Pineda is healthy and in shape for the 2014 season and that Cashman is rooting for the player he acquired to win the No. 5 spot in the rotation.

“He’s gonna compete for the last spot and hopefully he wins it,” Cashman said in the report. “But if it’s not him it’ll be somebody else. I can’t tell you the shoulder surgery is behind him. He’s someone who had a massive shoulder surgery and he’s trying to come back. He’ll either pitch for us or he’ll pitch for Scranton.”

Scranton is the last place Pineda wants to be in 2014. If he ends up there, it’ll mean he didn’t pitch well enough to beat out three serviceable but not overwhelmingly good starters. That’s quite a drop-off for a guy who was once good enough to play in the Midsummer Classic.

The upside is certainly there for Pineda, and all that’s left now is to take the next step and become a factor in the Bombers rotation out of spring training.

Sure, the team and fans are anxious to see him actually start a game. But thankfully for the youngster, he won’t have a heap of pressure on him, as he’s low on the totem pole as the last guy in line to start.

It’s a perfect way for Pineda to break back into the big leagues and hopefully build himself up as a future front-end guy in the best-case scenario for New York.

Pineda realistically still has time, with two years of arbitration after 2014, but it will seriously hurt the Yanks’ faith in him if his season comes up short for any reason other than an injury.

Even then, the belief that he can be a healthy, viable starter will be shattered almost beyond repair.

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Fan Suing Kansas City Royals After Being Injured by Mascot’s Hot Dog Throw

Apparently it’s not just flying bats and balls you have to watch out for at Major League Baseball stadiums these days.  MLB officials may have to post warning signs for flying hot dogs now too.

According to the Associated Press, per, the Royals are being sued because John Coomer of Overland Park, Kan., was hit in the eye with a hot dog thrown into the stands by none other than the team’s mascot all the way back in September of 2009.

Coomer, of Overland Park, Kan., says he was injured at a September 2009 Royals game when the team’s lion mascot, Sluggerrr, threw a 4-ounce, foil-wrapped wiener into the stands that struck his eye. He had to have two surgeries — one to repair a detached retina and the other to remove a cataract that developed and implant an artificial lens. Coomer’s vision is worse now than before he was hurt and he has paid roughly $4,800 in medical costs, said his attorney, Robert Tormohlen.

Had it been a foul ball or broken bat that struck Coomer, the Royals likely wouldn’t have been liable to pay for the injuries sustained. But since it was a hot dog from the hands of the team’s mascot, the Associated Press report states that Coomer may have a case.

The Missouri Supreme Court is weighing whether the “baseball rule” — a legal standard that protects teams from being sued over fan injuries caused by events on the field, court or rink — should apply to injuries caused by mascots or other personnel that teams employ to engage fans. Because the case could set a legal precedent, it could change how teams in other cities and sports approach interacting with fans at their games.

Coomer is seeking over $20,000 worth of damages, according to the same report, but that amount may be much higher. Coomer’s attorney, Robert Tormohlen, has refused to comment on the exact amount, however.

Tormohlen makes the case that the “baseball rule” doesn’t extend to mascots, per the AP:

If a jury finds that the activity at issue is an inherent and unavoidable risk, the Royals owe no duty to their spectators. No case has extended the no-duty rule to the activities of a mascot.

If you’re wondering why it took so long for this case to come about, it’s because Coomer’s suit was shot down by jurors two years ago. They sided with the Royals because they felt Coomer “wasn’t aware of what was going on around him,” according to a Kansas City Star report.

In January, Coomer was given another shot when an appeals court overturned the decision by the jury, saying that while getting hit by a baseball is a clear and understandable risk, getting hit with a flying hot dog is not.

The Royals have declined to comment on the pending lawsuit, but did note that the hot dog toss has been apart of games since 2000 and is as much a part of the ballpark experience as what goes on on the field during a game.

In the Associated Press’ report, SUNY Cortland sports management professor Jordan Korbitz believes a ruling in Coomer’s favor could force teams around the league to change the way they do promotions.

Consider Coomer’s case one that could make a huge dent in the way sports teams handle promotions, although I’m sure we can all do without things being fired into the stands during games should he win. 

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MLB Playoffs 2013: Breaking Down Wild Card Pitching Matchups

The 2013 MLB playoffs begin on Tuesday night in the National League with the Cincinnati Reds going to PNC Park to take on the Pittsburgh Pirates in the first Wild Card Game at 8:07 p.m. ET on TBS.

The second Wild Card Game will be the American League matchup between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Cleveland Indians who will welcome the Rays to town. This game will take place on Wednesday at 8:07 p.m. ET on TBS.

Johnny Cueto will get the nod for the Reds, and Francisco Liriano will go for the Pirates in a matchup that will feature two starters who are a bit more established than the AL version’s starters.

For the Rays, Alex Cobb will get the ball, and Danny Salazar will take the mound for the Indians. These two pitchers will both be making their first career playoff starts.

Let’s break down each of these pitching matchups and figure out who has the edge in each.


Playoff games broadcast on TBS can be viewed online on the channel’s official site.


Cincinnati Reds at Pittsburgh Pirates

Johnny Cueto vs. Francisco Liriano

With Mat Latos unable to make the start for the Reds due to an elbow injury (according to the Associated Press via, Cueto will get the ball a year after lasting just 0.1 innings in Game 1 of the 2012 NLDS because of injury.

Cueto has seen plenty of the trainer’s room in 2013 with back issues and has made just two starts since returning from the disabled list on September 16. In those two starts, Cueto has looked solid with a 1-0 record and a 0.75 ERA. For the season, Cueto is 5-2 with a 2.82 ERA in limited action.

Liriano has seen his career revived as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates. After ending three of his last four seasons with an ERA over five, Liriano’s numbers are starting to look more like that of an ace with a 16-8 mark and an ERA of 3.02 for the upstart Pirates in 2013.

One major thing these two have in common is their lack of playoff experience. Liriano has tossed just 7.2 innings in the postseason in two appearances (one start), while Cueto has two October starts for a combined 5.1 innings pitched. Despite that, both starters have at least six years of experience in MLB.

Liriano’s struggles have been evident against the Reds as they are one of the handful of teams that have had some success against him this season.

The 29-year-old has yet to win against Cincinnati and has three losses in four starts with a respectable ERA of 3.70. Cueto‘s numbers are far more impressive against his counterpart as the Reds starter is 1-0 this season in two starts with a 0.73 ERA, although one of those starts ended early due to injury back in April.

Looking at Cueto‘s numbers all-time against the Pirates is where he has a huge edge. Cueto is 13-4 with a 2.37 ERA against Pittsburgh overall and owns a great 8-2 mark with a 1.80 ERA in PNC Park alone.

The experience factor clearly goes to the Reds as a team after playing in October last year. Cueto‘s past success against Pittsburgh should carry over into this game against a tight Pirates team that is making its first postseason appearance in 21 years.


Tampa Bay Rays at Cleveland Indians

Alex Cobb vs. Danny Salazar

The American League Wild Card Game will feature two of the younger pitching stars that are emerging in MLB today.

Cobb has been stellar for the Rays in 2013 but was forced to miss two months during the season with a head injury as a result of being hit by a comebacker. When he’s been on the field, Cobb posted an 11-3 record with a 2.76 ERA. The 25-year-old has won his last three starts to finish the regular season strong and sported a 3-0 record with a 2.57 ERA in September.

Fellow young stud, Salazar, entered the big leagues in July and has been great for the Indians ever since his debut start on July 11 that saw him go six fabulous innings of two-hit, one-run ball with seven strikeouts. For the season, Salazar is 2-3 with a 3.12 ERA and also finished off the season looking good with a 2.52 ERA during the final month, although he only lasted six innings or more twice in five starts.

Cobb has seen the Indians once this seasonwhich came back on April 6and was dominant. He went 7.1 innings without allowing a run while surrendering just four hits and striking out six. Salazar has yet to face the Rays this season, so that makes his future against Tampa Bay in this game unpredictable.

Tampa Bay finished No. 21 in MLB in strikeouts as a team, so Salazar’s ability as a guy who can make hitters miss may fall flat against his Wild Card opponent. On the flip side, Cobb should enjoy plenty of whiffs as the Indians finished No. 9 in baseball in strikeouts as a team.

Cobb will come into this game as the hotter of the two pitchers considering his superior numbers in September with four of his five starts being six innings or more during the month. Both pitchers will suffer from inexperience in this game, but the Rays have a great track record of putting young starters in a big spot and getting the most of themand Cobb will be the latest to get it done.

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