TAMPA, Fla.— Two of Ichiro Suzuki’s 3,089 career hits came off Masahiro Tanaka.
And the Yankees righthander, a countryman of the Japanese legend — who officially retired Thursday morning after the Mariners’ 5-4 victory over the A’s in Tokyo — smiled when recalling them.
“For me, I treasure that experience to be able to face him,” Tanaka said through a translator.
Ichiro, then with the Marlins, went 2-for-4 against Tanaka on June 15, 2015,
in Miami. It was surreal, Tanaka said, given that when he made his debut with the Mariners in 2001, Ichiro “was a superstar when I was in elementary school.”
Their careers overlapped in 2014, Tanaka’s rookie season. Ichiro spent 2 ½ seasons with the Yankees from 2012-14.
“I never thought that I would be playing with him in my wildest dreams,” Tanaka said.
“I had the opportunity to be teammates with him in the WBC [World Baseball Classic] in 2009 and had the chance to play with him here in 2014. Taking myself back to those moments, I never thought I would [get to] play on the same field with him in my wildest dreams.”
Asked to describe the impact Ichiro had on Japanese players with aspirations of playing in the majors, Tanaka smiled. “It’s too grand of an impact. I can’t even put them into words,” he said. “He made a huge, huge impact.”
German roughed up
Domingo German’s impressive spring veered off track Thursday in Jupiter, where the Cardinals ripped him for six hits and five runs in 3 2⁄3 innings in an 11-3 win over the Yankees. That inflated his ERA from 1.54 to 4.11. Dexter Fowler hit two homers off German and Marcell Ozuna added a third.
German described his outing as “sweet and sour” as the Cardinals took advantage of his commitment to throw strikes in his fourth Grapefruit League start. German struck out four and did not allow a walk.
“I love the aggressiveness,” manager Aaron Boone said. “We want him attacking the strike zone. He certainly has the stuff to do it. But I thought that, yeah, he just made too many mistakes in the strike zone. And a couple times where I thought he had a chance to put guys away and just threw too good a pitch ahead in the count. I like the fact that he’s aggressive and on the attack. We still saw flashes, and enough there. That why we’re excited about him.”
Utilityman Tyler Wade, who left Wednesday’s game against the Astros with hip tightness, said he felt “way better” Thursday morning.
“I have all my range of motion back,” he said. “I honestly think it was that bus ride [late Tuesday night across the state]. I fell asleep in an awkward position and it tightened up on me. This morning I feel great. No concern at all. I could play today, I could play right now.”
CC Sabathia, who will start the season on the injured list, made his spring training debut in a minor-league game against the Tigers. He allowed one run and two hits, including a homer, and struck out three in two innings.
“The slider was a lot better than it has been all spring today,’’ he said, “so that’s encouraging. Changeup’s been good, two-seamer’s been really good, so just finding the lane on the cutter [needs work] and just keep going. But after I gave up the home run [to Hector Sanchez] the cutter got better, so that’s good.”
The expectation is that Sabathia, brought along at a slow pace in spring training because of an offseason cleanup procedure on his right knee and an angioplasty, should be back by the second or third week of the season.
Yankees spokesman Jason Zillo said guest instructor Lee Mazzilli was to remain hospitalized through Thursday night for observation after he was struck in the head by a ball during batting practice Wednesday. According to Mazzilli’s wife, Dani, his condition has improved and he’s “humbled and appreciative” of the number of baseball people who have reached out to him.