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.

Ken Giles: ‘I’m actually enjoying the game more than I did for my entire tenure in Houston’

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Blue Jays closer Ken Giles hasn’t exactly turned things around since joining the Blue Jays on July 31, when the club sent embattled closer Roberto Osuna to the Astros. Giles posted a 4.99 ERA in 30 2/3 innings with the Astros, then put up a slightly less miserable 4.58 ERA in 17 2/3 innings with the Jays. Still, he’s much happier with the Jays than he was with the Astros, even after winning the World Series with them last year. He said to Rosie DiManno of the Toronto Star, “I’m actually enjoying the game more than I did for my entire tenure in Houston. It’s kind of weird to say that because I won a World Series with that team. But it’s like, I just felt trapped there. I didn’t feel like myself there. Overall, I felt out of place.”

Giles also said “the communication was lost” with the Astros and it was something that came easy with the Jays. He said, “When I came here, they stayed patient with me. I said hey, I want to work on this thing till I’m comfortable. All right. OK, I’m comfortable, let’s move on to this next thing. Pitching, you can’t just try to fix everything at once. For me, I had to take baby steps to get my groove back. The Jays allowed me to do that. Yeah, the team was out of contention, but it doesn’t matter. It’s still my career. I still have to prove myself. Them being so patient with me, understanding what I want to do, was very, very big.”

Giles, 28, has two more years of arbitration eligibility remaining. He has shown promise despite his overall mediocre numbers. In non-save situations this season (with both the Astros and Jays), he has a 9.12 ERA. But in save situations, his ERA is a pristine 0.38. Giles could be a closer the Jays find themselves leaning on as they attempt to get back into competitive shape. Since it sounds like Giles is quite enamored with Toronto and with the Blue Jays, a discussion about a contract extension certainly could be had.