TAMPA, Fla. - Since he came to the Yankees before the 2012 season, the questions surrounding Michael Pineda have never been about his stuff.
Durability is another matter, the reason the 26-year-old righthander keeps coming back to some form of one phrase in particular when discussing goals for 2015.
"I'm working hard to be healthy all season," Pineda said late Sunday morning after throwing his first live batting practice of spring training, a session catcher Austin Romine called "something to be excited about."
"I'm sure he's happy with it. I know a lot of people were happy with it," Romine said of the session, which was observed by Joe Girardi and pitching coach Larry Rothschild, among others. "It was easy for me to catch because he was hitting his spots. All I do know is it was coming in good, it was moving good and guys were not taking good swings at it."
Said Girardi: "I was pretty excited what I saw today. It was really, really good. You get excited when you think about sending him out there every [fifth] day and getting 30, 32 starts from him and see what he can possibly do for your team."
The 6-7 Pineda threw well last season, going 5-5 with a 1.89 ERA in 13 starts, but missed almost four months with a muscle injury in his right shoulder.
It is the same right shoulder in which he suffered a torn labrum during spring training 2012, requiring surgery that kept him from pitching in the big leagues in 2013.
"I feel everything is in the past right now," Pineda said of his shoulder issues.
The Yankees certainly hope so.
The club has a rotation full of question marks, and high on the list is whether Pineda can stay healthy enough to surpass 200 innings for the first time.
"It's something you pay attention to a little bit," Girardi said of watching Pineda's workload in spring training. "Not so much the injury but the fact he hasn't thrown 200 innings. You have to pay attention."
The most innings Pineda has thrown was 171 in his rookie year with Seattle in 2011, when he went 9-10 with a 3.74 ERA.
"I want to throw 200 innings," said Pineda, who likely will slot into the No. 2 spot in the rotation behind Masahiro Tanaka, assuming both come out of camp with no physical issues. "But the No. 1 thing is being healthy to pitch every five days."
"We have not talked about any [innings] limitations at this point," Girardi said.
Pineda sent up red flags in the organization when he showed up overweight for his first spring training with the Yankees in 2012, but he seems to have learned from that mistake. When he arrived at the club's minor-league complex in early February to begin his work for the season, he looked trim and athletic.
When he was healthy last year, Pineda resembled the pitcher he was in his first 17 starts in 2011, when he went 8-5 with a 2.58 ERA in 108 innings, allowing only 75 hits and striking out 106.
"I can say what I think, but it doesn't matter," pitching coach Larry Rothschild said earlier in camp. "He's going to have to prove it no matter what I say. If he picks up where he left off last year, then we'll obviously be really happy with that."