TAMPA, Fla. (CBSNewYork/AP) — New York Yankees ace Masahiro Tanaka thought his spring training debut was "good." His teammates used another word: "great."
Tanaka was perfect in two quick innings Thursday night, striking out two and throwing 15 of 19 pitches for strikes in the first real test for his throwing elbow.
"He looked great, kind of picking up right where he left off last year," catcher Brian McCann said after the Yankees' 3-2 win over Atlanta, according to MLB.com. "His sinker tonight was what impressed me the most. He had good downward action on it. His split was there, and he had a couple of quick innings. He was putting the ball where he wanted."
Shortstop Didi Gregorius also used the G-word, but in a different context.
"For me, being behind him for his first outing, he was really great," he said. "It was nice to get a couple of ground balls. He works down in the zone. It was great. To be behind him for the first time, it was amazing."
Tanaka was an All-Star last year during his first season in the majors, but the Japanese right-hander missed 2 1/2 months while rehabilitating a partially torn ligament in his elbow. He returned for two starts in late September.
"Overall, I think it was good," Tanaka said through a translator, according to MLB.com. "Probably the best part is that I was able to get first-pitch strikes a whole lot tonight."
Yankees manager Joe Girardi said he has "a good feeling" about his Japanese ace. As for Tanaka, he said that he's feeling fine on the mound.
"I've had the time to prepare myself up to this point," Tanaka said. "It has gone well thus far."
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