Masahiro Tanaka hopes to work on command

To the average person, Masahiro Tanaka couldn’t have had a better start against the Detroit Tigers. Tanaka pitched 4.1 hitless innings which contributed to a combined no-hitter.

However, they always say that we are our own worst critic. And in this case, Tanaka was his own worst critic. Tanaka said his command was “all over the place” but he was pleased with putting up zeroes.

“I’m somewhat satisfied,” Tanaka said following his start on Friday. “I felt that I wasn’t at my best, but I was still able to put up some zeroes, so that part I’m satisfied with.”

While Tanaka was notably hard on himself, manager Joe Girardi was impressed with Tanaka’s splitter.

“He feels healthier and I think he’s gotten more accustomed to what we do here,” Girardi said prior to Friday’s game. “The schedule and each year he’s adjusted better to throwing on the fifth day. I think his body is more prepared for it.”

Tanaka struggled on regular rest, pitching to a 3.71 ERA when he went every fifth day. With an extra day of rest, Tanaka had a 2.41 ERA and on two days rest, Tanaka had a 3.18 ERA.

“The hard thing is — and I understand why I’m questioned about it — but MLB doesn’t allow me to add another player. You have to deal within the parameters of five starters and seven relievers,” Girardi said. “When we can get him the extra day, we do it, just like all of our other starters. If you’re playing 15 days in a row, it’s kind of hard. And if you want to spot start someone, bring someone up, well now you’re messing everything else up. That’s the problem.”

While Tanaka has looked sharp this Spring, Girardi doesn’t think Tanaka is quite ready for Opening Day.

“You still have to build up your stuff,” he said.

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