TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka got along just fine with baseball’s new 20-second pitch clock in his first spring training start.
Tanaka is one of the majors’ slowest workers, but he didn’t have any violations while working three scoreless innings in New York’s 7-1 win over a Detroit Tigers split-squad on Sunday.
Tanaka was ranked 76th out of 78 pitchers throwing 150 or more innings last year at 26.1 seconds between pitches, according to Fangraphs. He was ahead of only Houston’s Justin Verlander (26.3) and Boston’s David Price (26.7).
“Yes, I was conscious of that,” Tanaka said through a translator. “It’s something MLB is testing during spring training and it might come into effect once we get into the season. You don’t want to be not prepared if that were to happen.”
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He had 19 of his 40 pitches subjected to the clock rules and saw it hit three seconds left against Christin Stewart with a runner on third and one out in the first.
Eight times, including four and five seconds remaining to Ronny Rodriguez during the second, the pitch clock dropped into a single digit.
“Everything went smooth for me,” said Tanaka, who does not support the use of the clock. “I felt all in today. It didn’t affect me in a negative way.”
John Hicks received time and stepped out of the batter’s box with three seconds to go in his first-inning at-bat.
After pushing for an agreement with players last season, Major League Baseball decided on its own to experiment with pitch clocks during spring training this year. Owners have the right to implement them for the regular season but would prefer to reach an agreement with the union.
A pitch clock has been used in some minor leagues since 2015. MLB has talked about ball penalties against pitchers for violations once its plan is fully implemented.
“I think we’ll just adjust when we’re forced to,” Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said. “I’m watching it play out and so far it hasn’t affected anybody. Like anything else, whatever the new norm is, everybody eventually adjusts to it.”
LHP CC Sabathia (heart stent and knee) threw 20 pitches in his second bullpen session. … CF Aaron Hicks (back) didn’t play but is expected back Tuesday. … LHP Phillip Diehl, hit on the left side by a liner in Saturday’s game against Pittsburgh, is fine and took part in drills.
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