In his long-awaited spring training debut, Japanese star Masahiro Tanaka showed glimpses of how could he could be for the Yankees in 2014.
Tanaka struck out 3 batters and gave up 2 hits while throwing 31 pitches in 2 innings of work as the Yankees beat the Phillies 4-0 in front of a capacity crowd at George M. Steinbrenner Field. His fastball topped out at 94 MPH and his splitter looked as good as advertised.
The game aired nationally on MLB Network and despite first pitch occurring at 3am in Japan, not one, not two, but three Japanese television stations showed the game.
A new look and much slimmer CC Sabathia started for the Yankees in his spring debut. Sabathia gave up 2 hits in 2 innings. His fastball velocity though only reached 88 MPH.
Sabathia’s been saying recently that location is more important than velocity in getting hitters out, but you can bet the Yankees would still like to see that trademark fastball return.
Hiroki Kuroda was the 3rd projected Yankees starter to make his first spring appearance and Kuroda was the most impressive pitcher of the day. He too threw 2 scoreless innings striking out 2 batters and giving up just one hit on 17 pitches.
Kuroda fell apart down the stretch last year for the 2nd year in a row, but it’s definitely a good sign that he looked good to start the spring. Now it’s just up to manager Joe Girardi to keep Kuroda fresh when the calendar strikes September.
**Derek Jeter still looks to be getting his timing down at the plate. He did reach base for the first time this spring. Jeter walked and reached on an error. He looks more than fine in the field.
**Ichiro Suzuki appears to be the odd man out in the Yankees outfield, but the 40-year-old can still play. It’s unclear though what his role will be on the 2014 Yankees.