Masahiro Tanaka goes two scoreless, strikes out three in his U.S. debut

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TAMPA — Masahiro Tanaka made his U.S. debut today, facing the Phillies at Steinbrenner Field in Tampa. Tanaka pitched third in the game, with CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda taking the first four innings. Tanaka was not dominant, but he was effective.

In the fifth he gave up a leadoff single to Darin Ruf then retired Cody Asche and Cameron Rup on flies to left. He pitched the count full against Cesar Hernandez before ultimately striking him out. Back out for the sixth he struck out Ben Revere on three swinging strikes, one of which came on Tanaka’s fabled split-finger fastball. He then allowed a Ronny Cedeno single to center, struck out Domonic Brown and then induced Kelly Dugan to fly out to center.

Tanaka wasn’t razor-sharp, but he looked just fine for a guy getting his first work in of the spring. He threw 32 pitches, 22 for strikes. When he needed to dial it up a bit, such as that splitter to Revere and the chest-high fastball that served as strike three to Brown, he was able to easily. Mostly, he looked composed. He was like any other major leaguer at the first of March. He knows it’s a long season and didn’t feel any need to go to 10 when the Yankees only needed him at a 7.

Not bad for a 7.

Check out the highlights from Tanaka’s performance below:

 

Pirates hire Ben Cherington as their new general manager

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The Pittsburgh Pirates have hired Ben Cherington as the team’s new general manager. They do so after the general manager meetings ended, but better late than never.

Cherington served as GM of the Boston Red Sox for four years, winning the World Series in 2013, but resigned during the 2015 season after Dave Dombrowski was named Boston’s new president of baseball operations. Which was a defacto demotionn for Cherington who, until then, had the final say in baseball decisions. Dombrowski, of course, was fired late in the season this year. Cherington went on to work for the Toronto Blue Jays as a vice president, but was seen as biding his time for another GM position. Now he has one.

Cherington takes over in Pittsburgh for executive vice president and general manager Neal Huntington, who was fired after a 12 years at the helm. Also fired was team president Frank Coonelly. Travis Williams replaced Coonelly recently. While the Pirates experienced a few years of contention under Huntington and Coonelly, they have slid out of contention in recent years as the club has traded away promising players for little return, all while cutting payroll. There’s a very big rebuilding job ahead of Cherington.

The first move he’ll have to make: hire a manager, as the team still hasn’t replaced Clint Hurdle since he was dismissed in the final weekend of the regular season.