Masahiro Tanaka has impressed everyone with his pitching thus far. Tonight we will see just how impressive he is with a bat. According to Chad Jennings at LoHud.com, Tanaka admitted he had some uncertainty about it. “(I am) a little bit scared,” Tanaka said. Manager Joe Girardi said the Yankees have had their starters taking occasional swings for about a month so that this series and the upcoming sets against the Mets, Cubs and Cardinals are not a complete change of pace.
Tanaka homered a few times off pitching coach Larry Rothschild a few days ago. “If it was Larry (pitching for the Brewers), I would be excited,” Tanaka said. One guy who isn’t nervous is C.C. Sabathia, who will be going for the Yankees on Saturday. Sabathia is known for his love of hitting, having gone deep three times in his career, which is a lot considering he’s only spent half a season in his entire MLB career with a National League team (Brewers in 2008).
David Phelps, who will be starting for the Yankees on Sunday, hit a BP home run on Wednesday, and said he’s just hoping to get an opportunity to bunt because he feels comfortable doing it. “We’re going in to play a team that’s playing extremely well in Milwaukee,” Girardi said. “They’re pitching extremely well and not giving up a lot of runs. I think they have the best record in baseball, so I don’t know how much history (of interleague success) is going to help us.
Playing the National League team, it’s different, especially when you go to their ballparks and your pitchers are expected to hit. I know some of our guys are excited about that. I’m not so sure how excited I am about it.” This year, interleague play shouldn’t be as much of an issue for the Yankees however, considering they have the likes of Alfonso Soriano, Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann and Kelly Johnson, who are all familiar with the N.L.
I personally always enjoy interleague play, just because it’s such a different feel to play against teams you rarely see, and for the pitchers to get an opportunity to hit. Of course, the risk of one of your pitchers getting injured while running, a la Chien-Ming Wang, is always a big concern for the A.L. teams, and their fans. But the fact of the matter is during the course of a long 162 game season, you’re going to want to see some change eventually, and I know for me at least, seeing the pitchers get to bat is always a refreshing one. It all starts tonight with “Tanaka Time,” beginning at 8:00 P.M. EST.