I don't think of it as a ploy as much as preventative maintenance in responding to the early signs of an overuse injury (which can be knee as much as arm).
But it's also okay to be strategic and say that the schedule makes it make sense to take the rest now compared to trying to force one more outing.
I also get the sense that Rocco (and others in management) have the kind of demeanor that would even allow him to go to Pineda (and his agent) and say, "Mike, you're coming back from TJS and the knee issues at the end of last year. Guys in that situation have a tough time getting through the season without missing a start. Sometimes guys try to force it and they end up with a more significant injury. Let's brainstorm together about the most strategic time to take a well-planned rest, and it will benefit us both. You will stay healthier, which makes us a better team, and being able to pitch through the season will help your chances of getting that multi-year contract you're striving for. And by the way, when we get to August and you've indeed demonstrated to us that you're going to be healthy for the long haul, we've demonstrated to you that we are indeed concerned about your long-term health, and we're both lining ourselves up for the playoffs, let's sit down and talk about an extension."
This is a really good post.