Masahiro Tanaka to make his spring debut on Saturday and HBT will be there

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I leave for spring training in Florida tomorrow. Masahiro Tanaka makes his spring training debut on Saturday. Oh, providence!

Tanaka will throw 35 pitches for the Yankees that day. He won’t start — that’ll be CC Sabathia — but he will start an inning, either after Sabathia or third after Hiroki Kuroda goes.

I was at Yu Darvish’s spring training debut in Arizona a couple of years ago. The pitching itself was kind of boring — he had good stuff but also gave up a lot of sharp hits — but it was a wild scene overall. The media throngs, the pumped-up fans and the general excitement of the debut of a much-awaited and little-seen pitcher. I figure that the Tanaka experience will be like that multiplied by about a hundred. Everything is bigger in New York. Even when New York is in Tampa for a couple of months.

I’ll be posting live from Tanaka-palooza on Saturday. Be here/there or be square.

Giants place Hunter Pence on 10-day disabled list with right thumb sprain

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The Giants placed outfielder Hunter Pence on the 10-day disabled list with a right thumb sprain, per an official announcement on Friday. Pence initially sustained the injury during the club’s home opener on April 3, when he dove to intercept a line drive double from Robinson Cano and jammed his thumb. Weeks of playing through the pain hasn’t worked, so he’ll take a breather while the Giants give outfielder Mac Williamson a chance to start in left after getting called up from Triple-A Fresno.

Pence, 35, wouldn’t pin his recent struggles on his injury, but it’s clear that he’s having difficulty finding his footing this year. He slashed a meager .172/.197/.190 through 61 plate appearances in 2018, collecting just one extra-base hit and two walks during the Giants’ dismal 7-11 stretch. While it’s far too early in the season to make any final judgments, it doesn’t look like the veteran outfielder will be replicating the .275+ average, 4.0+ fWAR totals of years past (at least, not anytime soon).

Williamson, meanwhile, has gotten off to a hot start in Triple-A. Prior to his call-up this weekend, the 27-year-old batted an incredible .487/.600/1.026 with six home runs and a 1.626 OPS through his first 50 PA. A hot Triple-A bat doesn’t always survive the transition to the majors, but the Giants will use all the help they can get — especially as they take on the AL West-leading Angels this weekend.