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Banuelos making progress, expected to start on Monday

Manny Banuelos appears slated to start on Monday if he completes Friday's bullpen session without pain.
Dan Pfeiffer/

TRENTON – After being scratched from his scheduled start this past Monday with fatigue/weakness in his pitching arm, Trenton Thunder left-handed pitcher Manny Banuelos indicated his arm feels “pretty loose and strong” after playing catch prior to Thursday’s series finale against the Harrisburg Senators.

“Today, I played catch a little bit,” Banuelos said. “My arm feels pretty good, feels a lot different. [There is] no more tightness, no more weakness.”

Banuelos, who is in the process of working his way back from Tommy John surgery, is one of the top pitching prospects in the New York Yankees farm system. He indicated that the plan is for him to throw a bullpen session on Friday, and if all goes well, he will be permitted to start Monday’s matinee against the Richmond Flying Squirrels.

Thunder Manager Tony Franklin indicated that even if all goes well, Banuelos’ next start will not be without restrictions. He indicated that the 23-year-old would not be allowed to exceed two innings pitched or 35 pitches, whichever comes first.

Banuelos has had a mixed bag of results since joining the Thunder at the end of April. After four appearances, his record stands at 0-1 and he is sporting an ugly 5.59 ERA and 1.55 WHIP. However, those numbers were significantly inflated after his last appearance, when he lasted just 2/3 of an inning while allowing a pair of runs on two hits and three walks.

While Banuelos refused to make excuses for the performance, he did indicate that he was felt something wrong with his arm during his last two outings.

“I started to feel it like a week and a half ago,” Banuelos told reporters on Monday. “My last two outings, I felt that and just kept pitching because we never feel 100 percent when we go out there, so that was kind of normal.”

After trying to push through a sore elbow two years ago, Banuelos learned the hard way that he must speak up when something is wrong, because weakness could quickly become a more serious injury.

“I don’t want to do that same thing,” Banuelos said during an interview Monday. “I thought when I felt that, just let it go, still play catch and all that, but that thing is not going [away], it’s still there.”

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