TAMPA, Fla. — Masahiro Tanaka stood by his locker after a successful debut, talking about his sharp split-fingered fastball, something that made him so successful in Japan.
Even so, Tanaka is way more than a one-pitch kind of guy.
Asked how many different pitches he threw Saturday in his first spring training game for the New York Yankees, Tanaka started counting on his fingers.
“Seven,” he said in English.
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“I felt pretty good out there,” Tanaka said through an interpreter. “I was nervous, but it was a really good nervousness. I’m relieved to be able to throw against the batters over here.”
Tanaka threw two scoreless innings, striking out three and giving up a pair of singles in the Yankees’ 4-0 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies.
Tanaka came in after CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda each pitched two innings. Some fans in the announced crowd of 10,934 at Steinbrenner Field stood and gave Tanaka a loud ovation when he went to the mound.
“A buzz around the park,” Sabathia said.
Tanaka was in control the whole way.
“The biggest thing was he looked calm out there,” Kuroda said of his countryman through an interpreter. “And the command was there, so he was good.”
Tanaka signed a $155 million, seven-year contract in January. He was 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA last year while leading Rakuten to its first Japan Series title.
• Texas Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus is dealing with soreness in his right forearm and will be sidelined for at least a few days. Assistant general manager Thad Levine said Saturday that Andrus has flexor tendinitis in his throwing arm. The team believes the issue stemmed from being overworked early in camp, and hopes a few days off will allow him a chance to recover. The team provided no exact timetable on when he might start throwing again. Andrus didn’t play winter ball for the first time in his career, and he knew it might take a little longer to get ready this spring. The 25-year-old Andrus is going into his sixth season in the majors. He has played 757 games for the Rangers, 315 more than any current Texas player.
• Ryan Braun ignored loud boos in his home spring debut, producing a single and a walk as a Milwaukee Brewers split squad beat the Los Angeles Dodgers, 6-5. Braun’s first at-bat at Maryvale Baseball Park was met with a vocal and extended chorus of boos, especially from the third-base side loaded with a large contingent of Dodgers fans. Braun walked and scored on a single by Carlos Gomez. In the third, Brewers fans on the first-base side tried to drown out the boos with a louder round of cheers before his infield single. The former NL MVP was suspended for the final 65 games of the season last year for his role in the Biogenesis drug scandal. Braun homered Thursday in his first at-bat of exhibition play at Phoenix Municipal Stadium, home of the Oakland A’s.
• Minnesota Twins slugging prospect Miguel Sano will have Tommy John surgery on his throwing arm and miss the 2014 season. The 20-year-old third baseman had been trying to rehabilitate a strained ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. He was hurt in October while playing winter ball in his native Dominican Republic. Twins doctors, along with orthopedic surgeon James Andrews, recommended rest for Sano in early November. Despite making strides during a two-month throwing program, Sano reported pain in his elbow after making an off-balance throw during an intrasquad game Thursday. An MRI exam revealed a partially torn ligament.