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Masahiro Tanaka impresses again while pitching live batting practice

Masahiro Tanaka pitches batting practice during a morning

Masahiro Tanaka pitches batting practice during a morning workout at George M. Steinbrenner Field on February 21, 2014 in Tampa, Florida. Credit: Getty Images / Leon Halip

TAMPA, Fla. - Masahiro Tanaka's second live batting- practice session drew similar reviews to his first.

"He was great," said Francisco Cervelli, who caught the session Monday. "I was trying both sides of the plate with every pitch and he was able to throw every pitch in every count."

Tanaka, watched by manager Joe Girardi, pitching coach Larry Rothschild and other coaches, faced righthanded-hitting Zelous Wheeler, lefthanded-hitting Dean Anna and righthanded-hitting Scott Sizemore.

"I was definitely impressed," said Sizemore, among those competing for an infield spot. "One, with his command, and two, obviously, with his stuff."

When catcher Austin Romine faced Tanaka in the pitcher's first live BP session Friday, a splitter went by and Romine said he had never seen a ball move like that.

Tanaka, 25, threw a handful of splitters Monday, and the opinions were mixed.

"I saw it well," Sizemore said of the one split he got. "It didn't bait me to swing at it, but it was kind of down and out of the zone to start, so I don't think it was one of his best ones. But if it's like the rest of his stuff I saw, it's got to be good."

Anna saw a different caliber of split, calling it "really dirty." He added, "It's definitely tough to face him, for sure, with all his pitches and how good they are."

Wheeler saw just one splitter and called it "really nasty."

Cervelli said Tanaka "threw everything," meaning curveballs, sliders, two- and four-seam fastballs and, of course, splitters. He joked, "I need one more finger" for the signs.

"He looked really good," said Girardi, who watched CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda throw live BP sessions before Tanaka. "His command was really good [with] all of his pitches."

The pitch that most impressed Girardi was Tanaka's slider, which he described as "pretty sharp today."

Jorge Posada also took in the session, standing behind the batting cage.

"Although he is still working on his mechanics, you can see he's got the pitches," Posada told ESPNDeportes. "He is a player that will throw strikes. He looks comfortable on the mound and he has four pitches that he can use in any situation."

Soriano returns

Alfonso Soriano was back to work after missing four days with the flu.

"Much better," said Soriano, who went through a light workout early in the morning that included 15 minutes of work in the batting cage.

Of his illness, which included an inability to keep food down, Soriano described it as "pretty bad."

"No energy, no nothing," he said. "I had to miss some practices, so you know it was bad. I like to practice every day."

For openers

The Yankees play Florida State in their exhibition opener Tuesday. Count Girardi among those interested in seeing 2013 Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston, an outfielder and reliever for the Seminoles.

"I'm excited to see him," Girardi said. "I heard he's pretty good."

Girardi said Brett Gardner, Kelly Johnson and Cervelli are the only regulars likely to see playing time Tuesday.


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