Newly acquired Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka made some fans during his first bullpen session and batting practice. The catcher for his bullpen session, Brian McCann was so impressed that he said Tanaka “is as good as advertised.”
McCann also remarked that Tanaka’s splitter “…falls off the table” and that “the motion is the same as the fastball and that’s the key to getting swings and misses…” This is an especially large compliment coming from McCann as he has caught the likes of Tim Hudson, John Smoltz, Craig Kimbral, Kris Medlen, Julio Teheran, among other really good pitchers during his days with the Atlanta Braves.
Tanaka also threw a live batting practice session today and was so good that he got another catcher, Austin Romine, to say “I’m glad he’s on our team.”
Romine remarked, ”I can’t speak too much about it, I haven’t caught him yet, but from a hitting standpoint it’s something special.” Take a peek at some of Tanaka’s live batting practice tosses here:
Video courtesy of Mark Feinsand/NY Daily News
Though nobody was at one-hundred percent today, it is nice to hear someone other than a scout say that he is legitimately good. It’s also a relief to know that batters had a hard time hitting him, as it is still a question as to whether or not he can get big leaguers out.
For those who believe that McCann and Romine are just trying to say the right things about the team’s $175 million investment: None of what was said was necessary. They could have said that they were just working out today and that they don’t know yet.
Also, Brian Cashman has been trying to lower expectations for Tanaka and these comments did the opposite of that.