As long as Masahiro Tanaka tells the Yankees he is healthy, owner Hal Steinbrenner believes the staff ace will emerge from the three-game pitching funk the right-hander is in. However, Steinbrenner isn’t dusting off Tanaka’s recent performances.
“We’ll see. The one thing about Tanaka is he is a seasoned veteran, and sometimes these seasoned veterans tend to start off a little bit slower. CC [Sabathia] has been that way in the past some years. And then they get better and better,’’ Steinbrenner said Wednesday in Manhattan, where MLB owners met.
“But look, I’m not going to say it’s not a concern, what we’ve seen. But he’s a professional. He’s a veteran. Been around a lot of years. There’s no complaints of injury. There’s no complaints of anything, physical-wise. So you’ve got to figure it’s going to come.’’
A good place for that to start is Saturday against the Rays in St. Petersburg, Fla., because the 28-year-old Tanaka’s last three outings haven’t been good. Wednesday in a Kauffman Stadium bullpen session that was supervised by pitching coach Larry Rothschild, Tanaka worked on keeping the left side of his body from flying open.
In Tanaka’s past three starts against the Blue Jays, Reds and Astros, he has worked 15 innings, allowed 25 hits and has a bloated 9.00 ERA.
The Yankees have their fingers firmly crossed that Sunday night, when the Astros dropped eight runs and seven hits (four homers) on him in 1 ²/₃ innings, was the low point.
That it came in front of the Yankees retiring Derek Jeter’s No. 2 especially stung Tanaka.
“I feel like I was more disappointed than usual. It was a really special day, and I thought it was one of those games that you have to do really well. Not being able to give out a strong performance on that day, I feel bad and disappointed,’’ said Tanaka, who is 5-2 with a 5.80 ERA in eight starts. “That’s what I think looking back on that day.’’
Rothschild said no matter what day the performance came on, it wasn’t good.
“That would be disappointing to pitch like that on any night,’’ Rothschild said. “I think he took it to heart when he didn’t start out well and it just snowballed.’’
Tanaka said he was not only looking to correct the mechanical issue in the bullpen session, but find out what led to it.
“I think it was adrenaline,’’ Rothschild said. “There are no excuses, it happened and we need to correct it.’’
Tanaka may have identified the flying-open problem, but wasn’t satisfied with all the pitches in the bullpen session. He did, however, take away the knowledge of what caused it.
“More than anything trying to keep the body back. There is a tendency to lean forward or lean in too quickly, and that kind of relates to opening the body up early,’’ Tanaka said. “In general terms, you try not to let the body go forward to the plate too much.’’
This isn’t the first multiple-game slide Tanaka has experienced in three-plus seasons as a Yankee. Each time he has rebounded, and he expects to repeat that process after Sunday’s debacle.
“Life goes on, and I have to leave that bad outing behind, learn from the mistakes and move forward,’’ Tanaka said. “Try to correct the mistakes that you made and be better the next time out.’’ Source: nypost.com