Masahiro Tanaka is slated to take the mound against the Baltimore Orioles this afternoon as the Yankees aim to even the series one game apiece. And if there’s anyone looking to erase his last abysmal start, it’s him.
“I’m sure he’s dying to get out there,” manager Joe Girardi said after the Yankees fell to the Baltimore Orioles 6-5 on Friday night at Camden Yards. “I can say in the three years that he’s been here, it’s probably the most unusual start I’ve ever seen him have. I know he had a rough one in Cleveland last year, but to not see the command is something that we really hadn’t seen before a whole lot. So I’m sure he’s really anxious.”
In Tanaka’s last outing, which occurred on Opening Day, he gave up seven hits before being removed after 2.2 innings. According to ESPN Stats, five of his hits were given up via the splitter.
“Mentally, you want to go out there as quickly as possible, get some positive results and move forward,” Tanaka said. “As far as mechanically, more than anything, I think I was trying to avoid my body from flying open too soon. I had one of the guys stand to my left side and just try to close my body and not let it fly open for pitches.”
Tanaka has the option of opting out of his contract at the end of the season. But Girardi doesn’t think the potential opt-out would be a distraction for Tanaka on the mound.
“I hope it’s not because he’s in a pretty good situation either way,” Girardi said. “So if he just goes out and pitches the way he’s capable of pitching, he’s in a good situation either way. So I hope it doesn’t become a focus. I hope it doesn’t get to him. He’s handled everything so well. I hope it doesn’t become (a distraction), and I don’t think it will.”
Tanaka doesn’t believe his contract is distracting him either.
“I said this from the first day of spring training, that I understand what the contract says, but it has nothing to do with how I perform out there on the mound,” Tanaka said. “It seems like I’m just repeating myself, but it doesn’t affect me. I’m just focused on playing baseball and getting the season going.”