31° Good Morning
31° Good Morning

Masahiro Tanaka says he and Joe Girardi talked about velocity; Girardi declines to elaborate on their discussion

Masahiro Tanaka of the New York Yankees looks

Masahiro Tanaka of the New York Yankees looks on after giving up a third inning two run base hit against the Toronto Blue Jays during Opening Day at Yankee Stadium on Monday, April 6, 2015 in the Bronx Borough of New York City. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Did Joe Girardi have a sitdown with Masahiro Tanaka regarding the pitcher's velocity after his Opening Day loss to the Blue Jays?

The question prompted a contentious reply from the manager.

"I wouldn't tell you anyway,'' Girardi said in response to a reporter's question before Saturday's game against the Red Sox. "Meetings I have with my players are meetings that are for us, not for the media. That's just the way I handle it. You may not agree with it, but that's always the way I handled it. Things that happen in the clubhouse are supposed to stay in the clubhouse.''

When Girardi was informed that Tanaka -- who will start Sunday night against the Red Sox in the completion of the three-game series -- not only confirmed the meeting but presumed that Girardi already had discussed it, he responded, "He said I would talk about it? Well, I'm not going to talk about it.''

Tanaka, who often speaks the day before a scheduled start, earlier had said through his interpreter, "We did have a meeting, we did have a meeting. I'm sure that Joe talked about it to you guys, so I'm not going to go into specifics, but to answer your question, yes, we did have a meeting.''

Tanaka, who made two starts last September after missing 2½ months to rehab what the Yankees called a slight tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, allowed four earned runs in four innings against the Blue Jays. Only 26 of his 82 pitches were fastballs. Until (and unless) he returns to 2014 form, many will think the injury continues to be a factor.

"I can't control what everybody else does,'' Tanaka said on that matter, "so I only try to do what I can control. That's try to get ready for my next game, so that's all I've been doing.''

Tanaka said the tear has not affected him. "Like I've always said, no, I'm not holding anything back,'' he said.

Tanaka originally created the stir at the last exhibition game in Washington when he said not to expect the same velocity as last season.

"I think there's been a lot made of it,'' Girardi said. "His average velocity [on Opening Day] was one mile off than his average velocity for the whole season [91] last year, and it is only his first start, and I think he will continue to develop arm strength as the season goes on.

"I think when he talked about it in Washington, he talked about it -- the way I understood in talking to him -- 'I'm not a guy that throws 96, 97, 98 and blows people away. That's not the type of pitcher I am.'

"I think you can really get caught up in velocity instead of making the pitches. The other day, he made mistakes with his fastball. His fastball got hit last year, too, so I'm not going to tell him to go out there and throw as hard as you can. What he needs to do is -- and what all pitchers need to do -- you need to locate a little better.''

New York Sports