TAMPA, Fla. -- Michael Pineda says that he is back to being the pitcher who tantalized scouts as an American League All-Star in 2011. If that's the case, the decision as to who will be the Yankees' fifth starter may be easier than expected.
Pineda threw a 35-pitch bullpen session on Monday at George M. Steinbrenner Field and said that he is pleased by his recovery from an anterior labral tear. Now, after two years of false starts, he expects to throw his first official pitches as a Yankee.
"I'm feeling good. Really good," Pineda said. "I'm throwing the same, mechanics [are] the same. Everything is the same. All [the] pitches are the same. I'm the same Michael Pineda."
"I thought the ball came out really well today," manager Joe Girardi said. "To me, it looked different than what I saw a couple of years ago when he got hurt and was pitching in games. I'm anxious to see him get in some games in the next 12 days or so."
As a rookie in 2011, Pineda went 9-10 with a 3.74 ERA in 28 starts for the Mariners before coming to the Yankees in a four-player trade in January 2012. Top catching prospect Jesus Montero headlined the package of players sent to Seattle and has also had difficulty making a big league impact.
Girardi said that Pineda's velocity was around 93 mph or 94 mph last year in the Minors, and Pineda said that he has been working on his conditioning. He showed up overweight two years ago but is back to his listed playing weight, 260 pounds.
Pineda added that he feels "no pressure" and is "happy" about the competition for fifth starter, which also includes David Phelps, Adam Warren and Vidal Nuno.
Girardi said that it is too early to handicap a favorite.
"Obviously, when we traded for [Pineda], we expected him to be in our rotation," Girardi said. "But he went through an injury, he went through significant time off, and that fifth spot is going to have to be earned."
Beltran can't hide excitement at camp
TAMPA, Fla. -- Veteran outfielder Carlos Beltran waited a long time for the chance to wear his Yankees gear, and as he made his first appearance at camp on Monday, he once again showed his excitement.
"I feel great, man, honestly," Beltran told reporters at the club's Minor League complex. "It's a great experience. This organization has always been an organization, tradition-wise, where many good players have put on this uniform. For me to be able to be part of history, I would say it feels great. I'm happy and looking forward to doing my job."
Beltran, who turns 37 in April, came to the Yankees on a three-year, $45 million deal. He had a brief workout on Monday in advance of Wednesday's official reporting date for position players, spending some time with new teammates Brian Roberts, Kelly Johnson and Eduardo Nunez.
"I look at the team, I look at our situation and the players that we have; we have a pretty good chance," Beltran said. "Last year I experienced being in the playoffs, being in the World Series with the Cardinals. It was a great feeling. Once you play there, you want to go there every year. Everything starts from Spring Training."
Beltran expects that the Yankees will need to dedicate some time to meshing this spring. The club also added Brian McCann, Jacoby Ellsbury and Masahiro Tanaka, highlighting a spending spree that exceeded $500 million.
"The good thing is that we're all veterans," Beltran said. "It's not like you're dealing with a bunch of younger guys that probably don't know what they need to do. We know what we're capable of. We just need to find a way to come to the ballpark, get used to the Yankees' way of playing the game and go from there."
Monday was not Beltran's first visit to the Yankees' spring complex. He sat down here with the late George M. Steinbrenner before the 2005 season, when he and agent Scott Boras explored the possibility of him signing with the Bombers as a free agent.
Steinbrenner was impressed by the meeting, but the negotiations did not work out, as The Boss prioritized pitching at the time. Beltran landed across town with the Mets instead, but nearly a decade later, he is pleased that he finally made it back.
"Of course, we have to win," he said. "I don't know how far we will go, but at least we have to do something positive -- better than what they did last year. No doubt about that. They went out, spent a lot of money on players to try to improve the ballclub.
"You want to be around an organization like that, where every year they're trying to improve and get better. In my case, I'm going to be blessed for three years here."
Thornton wants his turn in the postseason
TAMPA, Fla. -- Veteran left-hander Matt Thornton said that it was "probably one of the most disappointing points" of his career to be left off Boston's playoff roster last season, forced to watch from the inactive list as his teammates went on to win a World Series championship.
Now Thornton, 37, will have an opportunity to help keep Boston from getting back to the postseason. The Yankees were near the top of his list entering free agency this past winter, and he is looking forward to competing for a title.
"When you have a team of this quality, being a championship contender was probably one of my top two reasons to figure out where I wanted to sign -- the other one being my family," Thornton said.
Thornton inked a two-year, $7 million deal and will inherit the role of left-handed specialist from Boone Logan, who landed with the Rockies as a free agent. Thornton pitched for the White Sox and Red Sox last season, going a combined 0-4 with a 3.74 ERA in 60 appearances.
He was slowed in August by a strained right oblique, an injury that did not completely go away until late November. The Red Sox kept him around for the playoffs, and he even threw at Fenway Park in case he was needed for the World Series, but he was not activated.
"You work your whole career to be a part of something like that," he said. "I understood; I was inconsistent at the time, and they felt the other guys were doing a better job. They were nothing but respectful to me in the process."
Manager Joe Girardi has said that Thornton is one of the few locks for a bullpen that is entering the post-Mariano Rivera era. David Robertson will be the closer, and Shawn Kelley should fill a setup role.
"I'm excited for David to have the opportunity and see what he does," Thornton said. "I've watched David five, six years now, and he's one of the best relievers in the game. I have no doubt he'll transition into that role just fine. Following up in Mariano's footsteps is not the easiest thing. ... Mo, he's the best ever.
"He's the best in the playoffs ever, he's the best in the regular season, he's the best there is. He'll be missed, obviously. He'll be missed in baseball, not just by the Yankees. But we have to focus on moving up, and guys stepping up and stepping into roles and doing the job."
• Mark Teixeira took batting practice and hit off a tee from both sides of the plate on Monday. Girardi said that Teixeira took about 90 swings and "looked pretty normal, to me, from both sides."
• Right-handed reliever Yoshinori Tateyama, 38, reported to camp on Monday after being delayed by a visa issue. Tateyama earned a non-roster invitation after compiling a 1.70 ERA in 21 appearances at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre last season.