(I wouldn't get too attached to those numbers, gents.)
Now that everything has been made official with the Michael Pineda trade and the Hiroki Kuroda signing, the next big thing to wait for will be their introductory press conference. Part of the fun of the intro presser is seeing new players put on the Yankee uniform and hat for the first time, and part of the fun of the new unis is seeing what jersey number new players will get, as numbers tend to be at a premium when somebody joins the Yankees and what they wore for their old team might not be available. This year, both Pineda and Kuroda look like they're going to be searching for new ones.
Pineda wore #36 last year for the Mariners, but that number was worn by Freddy Garcia last season for the Yanks and will likely be assigned to him again in 2012 as he doesn't appear to be as likely to be traded as A.J. or Phil Hughes. If Pineda is real hung up on the 36 thing, he won't be able to split it as a Yankee, as both 3 and 6 are off limits for obvious reasons, although 6 has yet to be officially retired. He could reverse it and wear 63, which has been vacated by Jesus through the trade, but that number would be better served as one on hold for a Triple-A call-up. My guess is that Pineda will wear #38, which will be available as Luis Ayala won't be back with the team this year. It's the closest to 36 with 37 being retired, and it's a pretty damn good number. It also doesn't have a ton of "great" Yankee history, so Pineda can start his own legacy for it.
Hiroki Kuroda's #18 was occupied by Andruw Jones last season and stands to be assigned to Jones again this season. And Kuroda might have a long way to travel from 18 to find something he likes. If he goes down the road he's blocked by Francisco Cervelli at 17 and the retired duo of Whitey Ford and Thurman Munson at 16 and 15. If he goes up the road, he's looking at Ramiro Pena at 19 and then the just recently-vacated #20 of Jorge Posada. I don't think the Yankees are going to be giving that number up any time soon before they retire it along with Torre's 6, Jeter's 2, and Mo's 42. So the next best bet would be #22, which was used multiple times last year for Greg Golson and Brien Gordon. That's a good pitching number, and it's got some good history as a Yankee, so it makes sense to give it to Kuroda.
If either of these guys is really tied to their number, we could see some clubhouse wheeling and dealing once training camp starts. Freddy Garcia and Ramiro Pena seem like reasonable dudes; maybe they'd be open to a good offer. But if those talks stall, you heard it here first. Pineda wearing 38 and Kuroda wearing 22 in 2012.
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