Masahiro Tanaka’s first spring training start required an unexpected adjustment to an inevitable reality of American baseball.
“There aren’t that many (rain delays) in Japan,” he said. “There is actually not much at all in Japan. … Everybody was talking about that probably the game wasn’t going to be played. But I kept my emotions intact and I was game-ready.”
Truth be told, there aren’t that many rain delays in spring training either, but today was an exception to the rule. At times, the late-morning/early-afternoon downpour was overwhelming. The power went out momentarily at Bright House Field, and cell phones buzzed with news of a tornado warning in the area — Joe Girardi said the beep from his Bluetooth scared him, and that was even before he saw the actual message — but the Phillies saw a window, and the teams decided to wait an hour and a half.
“Today could have been (a bump in the road) with the rain delay,” Girardi said. “Because (Tanaka) has a routine, and with a lot of pitchers, your routine gets messed up with a rain delay.”
Tanaka seemed unaffected, continuing a pattern that has carried through all of his high-profile first three weeks in Yankees camp. None of the changes or attention seems to have bothered him.
A Japanese reporter explained that, in Tanaka’s former league, four of the six teams play under a dome. Also, when the weather gets bad in Japan, it’s customary to simply call off a game rather than wait through a delay. So, Tanaka was not used to waiting, but he still pitched a 1-2-3 first inning. Tanaka said he wasn’t as sharp as he would have liked, but the results were good. One run on a solo homer, but also no walks, seven ground ball outs — only one in the air — and a big strikeout against Chase Utley.
“I think (a rain delay) is a pretty normal thing once we get into the regular season,” Tanaka said. “That said, I think it was sort of good practice for me to experience what I experienced today. … I felt that I wasn’t at the top of my game going onto the mound today. Overall, including the results and everything, I feel that I did OK.”
The video above is a little bit of Girardi answering questions from the Japanese media about Tanaka’s outing. He laughed when someone asked whether Tanaka would have any “homework” after today’s start. Solid question, though, really.