Masahiro Tanaka doesn’t seem to mind Pedro Martinez commenting on his upcoming season with the New York Yankees. He just wishes the former Boston Red Sox ace had more flattering commentary.
Martinez, now an analyst on MLB Network, said Wednesday on SiriusXM’s Mad Dog Radio that he doesn’t expect Tanaka to stay healthy the entire season. Tanaka told reporters Thursday in Tampa, Fla., he was surprised by Martinez’s comments, though he isn’t putting too much stock into them.
“I feel kind of honored because a pitcher of that stature is talking about me. I was a little bit surprised by that,” the Japanese pitcher said through a translator. “I understand that everybody has their opinion about certain things, about the way I pitch. But for me, I know where I’m at, and I feel good, so I think that’s most important.”
Tanaka, who signed a seven-year, $155 million contract with the Yankees before last season, was limited to 20 starts in 2014, though he was very impressive when healthy. The right-hander currently is pitching through a small elbow tear, which has some, including Martinez, skeptical about his long-term health this season.
“Unless they come up with a magic trick to actually get him better during the season, I just don’t see him completely healthy all year,” Martinez said Wednesday.
Tanaka admitted Thursday he was “a little bit relieved” he made it through spring training without any issues. Martinez described Tanaka as being “hesitant” on the mound, which the 26-year-old doesn’t see as being a problem moving forward.
“I think Pedro was looking at specifically the last game that I was pitching, and obviously my stuff wasn’t the sharpest that day,” Tanaka said Thursday. “The games prior to that, I felt my breaking balls were there. In the bullpen, I’ve been throwing them pretty well, so I’m not really worried about that, either.”
Tanaka not only makes a lot of money. He’s also extremely important to the Yankees, who have questions in their rotation to open the season.
Martinez and others have reason to be pessimistic. It’s up to Tanaka to silence the cynicism.
Thumbnail photo via Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports Images
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