It was a sighting the Yankees expected would have become commonplace by now for the next decade: Michael Pineda’s towering 6-foot-7 frame, further boosted by the elevated mound, creating an intimidating presence for batters.

But Pineda’s start Thursday against the Orioles was a milestone, not the norm. It was his second appearance this spring, but his first start in a Yankees uniform in 713 days, since he surrendered six runs on seven hits to the Phillies in 2 2/3 innings in another exhibition outing on Mar. 30, 2012.

That was before an MRI revealed a torn labrum in his shoulder, immediately derailing his arrival and terminating his sophomore season before it began. The rehabilitation process limited him to games in Tampa and Trenton and Scranton last summer. He was absent from the Yankees’ radar.

Pineda, 25, is back on it this spring, vying for the final spot in the Yankees rotation in a four-way battle royale. He bolstered his case Thursday, tossing 2 2/3 scoreless innings against an Orioles lineup without its big boppers in the Yankees’ 6-0, split-squad win.

“He’s taking steps in the right direction,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “I want to see him continue to go in the right direction. It would be important for us. I can tell you that.”

Thursday, Pineda’s fastball command was inconsistent early — he allowed consecutive singles in the first inning — but he regrouped and flummoxed the Orioles with variations of his slider. The pitch ranged from 77 mph to 81 mph and Pineda used a full-count 81-mph offering to retire Quintin Berry looking in the third inning for one of his five strikeouts.