TAMPA – Before the first place in the J.A. Fortunately on Saturday against the Blue Jays at Steinbrenner Field, the Yankees know that they will open the season without James Paxton and may not have Luis Severino at the start.
Then they almost lost Masahiro Tanaka on Friday while the right-hander did live punching exercises in the Yankees' spring training complex on Field 2.
"Close," said Tanaka, over Brett Gardner's sizzling center ball that narrowly missed the thrower's right leg.
Later, D.J. LeMahieu smoked a line in the middle that wasn't far from colliding with one of Tanaka's body parts.
Despite the hard-hitting balls, Tanaka said he was overall satisfied with the two-inning trip against the Nationals at home before his first show on Wednesday.
"Just the gradual building," said Tanaka when asked what he had taken from the trip. “The last time it was an inning, today it was two innings. I like how I feel with the fastball and off-speed fields. "
Tanaka tried to sharpen a cut fastball and liked the action in previous stints on the hill. Friday he reduced the number of cutters he threw.
Tanaka said that Paxton (back surgery) may not be able to affect his responsibilities until June and the possibility that Severino (painful right forearm) may not be ready to start the season.
"It always hurts, not just a starter pitcher, when someone goes out with an injury," said Tanaka, who underwent elbow surgery to remove a bone spur in his right elbow, but showed no signs of it is a problem. "It can't affect what I have to do."