After a rookie season in 2011 that caught the attention of baseball enthusiasts, right-hander Michael Pineda's first season in pinstripes in 2012 was, well, non-existent. As a meticulous and diligent rehabilitation process is being followed in his quest to make his debut in the Bronx in 2013, Pineda garnered our number three spot in the ongoing series of most interesting Yankees entering 2013.
With the uncertainty of the back-end in the Yankees rotation, the proven capability of Pineda makes him a tremendous bounce-back candidate should his anticipated mid-June return go as planned.
While the major storyline of this offseason in the Bronx has been the mandated obligation to reduce payroll, compliments of Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner, another storyline has been the anticipated return of pitchers who dealt with the injury bug in 2012.
In addition to the aforementioned Pineda, ace C.C. Sabathia dealt with a pair of disabled list stints in 2012, however enters this season with a clean bill of health after offseason elbow surgery. Moreover, late-inning stalwart Joba Chamberlain will enter 2013 with a similar clean bill of health, this after missing most of 2012 following a devastating ankle injury suffered in a now-infamous trampoline accident.
However, to Yankees fans and the organization, no return in 2013 might be as revered as that of the legendary Mariano Rivera. Baseball's all-time leader in saves, Rivera comes back in 2013 following missing the bulk of last season after tearing his ACL in Kansas City. Despite such a significant tear, Rivera has proclaimed his excitement to get back on the hill in 2013.
With that being said, Rivera is number two on our list of most interesting Yankees entering 2013.
In addition to being baseball's all-time leader in saves, Rivera also carries the all-time record for post-season saves by a wide margin. However, as strongly as we can speculate a seamless return for the 43-year-old right-hander, there's still always that curiosity, especially considering the significance of the injury and the age.
What makes Rivera an interesting Yankee entering 2013? He is the greatest closer in the history of Major League Baseball and he is returning from arguably the toughest setback of his career.
Moreover, with last year's fill-in, Rafael Soriano, now closing for the Washington Nationals, Rivera is a full-go for his customary role in the ninth.
However, and after all being said, it's tough to discount Rivera's outlook for 2013. Set-up man David Robertson is still there to form the bridge, along with an aforementioned healthy Chamberlain and an overall solid bullpen. Additionally, a mostly-fortified rotation and a lineup that still packs a punch, despite some glaring holes at certain positions, all return and will take on just as much responsibility as Rivera.
Reiterating that there is curiosity to see how Rivera returns from an injury of this magnitude, there's even more interest just to hear "Enter the Sandman" blast over the loud speakers before the ninth inning and see #42 jog out from the bullpen.
It was certainly both a sound and sight that was missed in 2012.
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