KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Yankees hope a slight mechanical adjustment will help cure what has ailed Masahiro Tanaka this season.
“Larry talked to him today about some mechanical things so hopefully that will iron it out,” Joe Girardi said of pitching coach Larry Rothschild’s discussion with Tanaka. “I think his front shoulder was flying [open] a little bit [Sunday].”
Tanaka, his splitter and slider especially flat, experienced the worst start of his career in Sunday night’s 10-7 loss to the Astros, allowing eight runs and seven hits over 1 2/3 innings. That supplanted Opening Day this year, when Tanaka allowed seven runs and eight hits over 2 2/3 innings to the Rays. The 28-year-old went 3-0 with a 2.30 ERA over his next four starts, but has posted a 9.00 ERA in his last three starts.
“He’s had a couple good starts this year. He’s had some really bad ones,” Girardi said. “He just hasn’t had a good split and he hasn’t had a good slider, really, for most of the year.”
If it at first you don’t succeed . . .
If Chris Carter continues to struggle at the plate in place of Greg Bird — Carter entered Tuesday hitting .200 with a .293 OBP — Girardi said he would considering playing Matt Holliday a maximum of “one or two days” in his place.
“You want him healthy when he’s DHing,” Girardi said, adding Austin Romine would be the next option at first.
Outfielder Aaron Hicks started taking grounders at first in recent days but that experiment in a real game isn’t likely to happen any time soon.
“He’s not quite ready for first base,” Girardi said with a smile. “I think he’s athletic enough to do it but I think sometimes we envision that first base is an easy position, but it’s not.”
High praise for umpire Palermo
Ken Singleton paid tribute to Steve Palermo, the former umpire who died of cancer Sunday at the age of 67.
“Best balls and strikes umpire ever,” the YES broadcaster, an Oriole from 1975-84, said before calling Tuesday’s game with David Cone.
Palermo, a full-time umpire in the American League starting in 1977, saw his career cut short in 1991 when he was shot and paralyzed while coming to the aid of a woman who was being mugged in Dallas. Palermo, who lived in Kansas City and was a long-time press-box presence for games here, worked as an MLB umpire supervisor since 2000.
“He was,” Singleton said, “on his way to the Hall of Fame.”
Aaron Judge, Ronald Torreyes, Austin Romine, Chris Carter and Gary Sanchez were among the players arriving early in the afternoon at Kauffman Stadium to take early batting practice . . . Joe West, who worked the plate in the Yankees/Cubs 18-inning game May 7 at Wrigley, worked at second base Tuesday night and will be behind the plate Thursday.