Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka will debut his spring training with the New York Yankees in a match against the Philadelphia Phillies. The 155-million worth import has been drawing the media like bees to honey as they keep an eye if he is indeed worth the hype and the money.
As Tanaka practiced in his first bullpen session last Friday, his teammates could not help but be impressed with his skills, most specifically his splitter. Tanaka has been using the splitter as his trademark out pitch in Japan and fellow teammate, catcher Austin Romine raved about how he’d “never seen” a pitch like that previous sessions. “Tracking it in, I didn’t know what it was until halfway in. You’re going to see a lot of guys swinging and looking like fools on that pitch, I can just already tell,” described Romine on Tanaka’s move. However, the Japanese player remains humble, keeping his focus on improving his strength in time for the regular season. When asked, Tanaka, through an interpreter said that he was throwing only at 70 percent in his first session so that he can make adjustments with his teammates and vice versa. “Right now it’s hard to tell, but as far as in the bullpen session goes, I feel that I can get a little better,” described Tanaka.
While many raved about his famous splitter, most of the time, he pitches on contact in the past year and struck out 7.8 batters per nine innings. However, with the higher level of play in the MLB from Japan, some are expecting that Tanaka would need a lot of adjustment.
[via Bleacher Report]