VIERA, Fla. — After his previous outing, one last Thursday against the Pirates that lasted two innings instead the scheduled four, Masahiro Tanaka described himself as “frustrated.”
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It got worse Wednesday night as Tanaka allowed seven runs, including six in the third inning, and nine hits, including two home runs, over four innings of a 13-0 loss to the Nationals.
“They weren’t the results I wanted,” Tanaka said through his translator. “The positive I can take is to get these kinds of outings out of the way during spring training.”
The righthander, whom Joe Girardi before the game all but declared his Opening Day starter without formerly doing so, brought a 2.57 ERA into the contest.
But his fastball has hovered in the high 80’s now four starts into the spring. According to one scout, Tanaka, who has two spring starts left, averaged 89 mph on his fastball Wednesday night. Tanaka said his arm and body continue to feel good and Girardi’s concern is the crispness of the pitcher’s stuff, not his velocity.
“I didn’t think he had command of anything he threw,” Girardi said. “You want to get it going. His next start obviously is really important because you want players to feel good about themselves going into the season. It’s important. He’s got a big week of work ahead of him.”
Anthony Rendon swatted a flat 3-and-1 fastball over the head of Chris Denorfia in right for an RBI double in the first and, after a 1-2-3 second, it came apart in the third, an inning that started with a home run by former Yankee Stephen Drew, his first homer of the spring. The inning also included a two-run shot by Wilson Ramos.
Jacoby Ellsbury tested his right wrist, which was hit by a Julio Tehran fastball Saturday, in a tee-and-toss session Wednesday morning and said it went well. Girardi said the centerfielder, whose wrist was still wrapped and visibly swollen after the session, would take full BP Thursday and left open the possibility a return to the lineup Thursday night.
Down to the wire
Girardi said a decision on the final bullpen spots — Bryan Mitchell, Kirby Yates, Brandon Pinder, Luis Cessa and Johnny Barbato are among those in the competition — may not come until the two-game series in Miami that ends the exhibition season.
“You’d love to say you’d know before you go to Miami, but I can’t tell you that necessarily will be the case,” Girardi said.
Cessa (3.68 ERA) struck out one in a scoreless inning Wednesday and Barbato (2.45) struck out two in a scoreless frame. Yates, who has not allowed a run in four outings, is scheduled to pitch Thursday.