TAMPA, FLORIDA – A day before the start of his third spring training with the New York Yankees, Masahiro Tanaka foresaw a special season ahead following the birth of his first child.
Speaking at a news conference on Thursday, a day before the Yankees’ pitchers and catchers begin training, Tanaka said he wanted to build on his new experience.
“Having sampled something I’d never ever tasted before, I was moved,” Tanaka said. “Because I think this is going to be a special year, I want to keep things moving in a good direction.”
The right-hander, however, is coming off arthroscopic elbow surgery last year to remove a bone spur. He told reporters the elbow had not troubled him when pitching but felt it hindered his recovery between starts.
“(The surgery) cleared some things up, so I think this year is going to be better,” said Tanaka, who led the Yankees in wins (13-5 overall record) in 2014 despite missing 2-1/2 months due to a ligament tear in his right elbow.
After throwing from the mound for the first time on Saturday, pitching coach Larry Rothschild indicated the team would not pressure Tanaka to be ready at the start of the season. Tanaka, however, said that was his goal.
“The No. 1 thing is to be ready to go from Opening Day. That’s what I’ve been working toward and nothing has changed,” he said.