With Opening Day around the corner, Joe Girardi has options on who will take the hill for the first outing of the season. He could go with his Opening Day starter of the last six seasons in CC Sabathia, or he could choose another starter, possibly Masahiro Tanaka. While many are speculating who could be the Opening Day starter, Joe Girardi hasn’t committed to any of the pitchers and is more interested in them getting their work in.
We’ll just see who’s ready,” Girardi said to the media following last night’s 4-2 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays. “We have to see where (Sabathia’s)’s at. That’s been the whole thing all along here. We’ve been patient with him and Tanaka because we want to see where they’re at.”
Sabathia has started on Opening Day every year for the past six seasons and if Masahiro Tanaka pitches every six days (on an extra days rest), he’ll be lined up to start on Opening Day. Tanaka pitches tonight against the Atlanta Braves in Disney.
“I can’t sit here and say it’s going to make or break me if I don’t start Opening Day,” Sabathia said. “I’ve done it a lot. I want to be there in September, and for Game 1 of whatever playoff series. I leave that up to them. I hate to sound like I don’t care, because I do, but whenever I get out there, I’ll be happy with that.”
Both Tanaka and Sabathia have health concerns as they enter the season; Sabathia is coming off knee surgery and Tanaka has a small UCL tear in his elbow that he’s been rehabbing. Health is one of the major factors in the decision, along with getting them the starts they need to be ready for the season. So far, neither Sabathia or Tanaka have seen much time in a game.
“All of this goes into it,” Girardi said. “I think the way we’re looking at it is, who’s ready? We want to make sure that person is ready, obviously. You look at the rotation and how does it benefit each guy? You’re the No. 1 guy on the day you pitch; that’s all that matters to me. Whether you’re the first starter, the second starter, you’re still that No. 1 guy and you’re still going to take your turn every five days or every six days if we have an off-day. I’m not a big believer of skipping people, so it’s just formality, really.
“Neither one of them (Sabathia or Tanaka) have made a lot of starts in spring training. So something could change our mind. I’m pretty open-minded about it right now. Obviously I’ll have to change my mind pretty soon, but right now, that’s not a huge decision for me.”