Pineda playing catch, but likely out until June

Pineda playing catch, but likely out until June

MILWAUKEE -- Michael Pineda has resumed playing catch, according to Yankees manager Joe Girardi, but it is unlikely that the right-hander will be able to rejoin the big league rotation until June.

Girardi said that Pineda played catch on Saturday at a distance of 60 feet, an important first step back from the Grade 1 strain of the teres major muscle in his upper back. Pineda was injured in an April 29 simulated game while serving a 10-game suspension.

At the time, the Yankees said that Pineda was expected to return in three to four weeks, but that may have been an optimistic estimate; the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw sustained a similar injury in a March 22 start and did not start again in the big leagues until May 6.

"We have a plan, and as long as he makes every step along the way, I don't know if he's quite six weeks, but we've got to get him back built up," Girardi said. "That's the problem with starting pitchers, you've got to build him up."

Pineda's season had been off to a good start. He compiled a 1.00 ERA through his first three starts, winning twice, before he was ejected for slathering pine tar -- an illegal substance -- on his neck during an April 23 start against the Red Sox at Fenway Park.

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.