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Masahiro Tanaka doesn’t want to see universal DH rule

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Recently, we learned that the MLBPA suggested implementing a universal DH rule in time for the 2019 season. Commissioner Rob Manfred quickly shot down that idea, saying a universal DH wouldn’t be implemented until the next collective bargaining agreement, i.e. 2022 at the earliest.

Naturally, the DH debate came alive again. Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard chimed in, showing he’s not a fan of a universal DH rule. Now another New York pitcher has weighed in: Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka. Newsday’s Erik Boland reports that Tanaka would also prefer not to see a universal DH rule take effect.

Tanaka said via a translator, “I did get injured last season running the bases but when you look at it, I grew up where baseball was played by nine guys, meaning the pitcher would hit also. I really enjoyed that baseball, so I guess that’s all I can say about that.”

Tanaka, 30, batted in only three games last season. The second of those three games was a June 8 battle with the Mets. With one out in the sixth inning, Tanaka reached on an error, advanced to second base on a Gleyber Torres single, then went to third base when Brett Gardner walked, and finally scored on an Aaron Judge sacrifice fly. Tanaka injured both of his hamstrings running home. He was placed on the injured list and ended up missing a month of action. Proponents of the DH rule pointed to Tanaka’s injuries as reason to implement a universal DH. One would think Tanaka himself would be pro-DH after what happened, but he’s not.

Across parts of seven seasons in Japan, Tanaka only came to the plate 42 times. He registered three hits (one double) and four RBI with 16 strikeouts. In his 28 major league plate appearances, he has just one hit with 12 strikeouts and one walk.

Blue Jays release John Axford

John Axford
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The Blue Jays have released right-handed reliever John Axford from his minor league contract, per an announcement on Saturday. Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi speculates that the move could provide an avenue for the club to rework Axford’s contract, but the Blue Jays have yet to confirm or deny the report.

Axford, 35, was dealt a blow on Thursday after getting diagnosed with a stress reaction in the olecranon bone of his right elbow. Elbow soreness dogged the right-hander through much of his time in camp, and although he was scheduled for a follow-up examination later this spring, a definite return date had not been established.

Prior to the diagnosis, Axford was tabbed for a setup role with the team in 2019. He pitched to mixed results in 2018 (thanks in part to a late-season fracture of his right fibula) with a 5.27 ERA, 4.9 BB/9, and 9.8 SO/9 through 54 2/3 innings with the Blue Jays and Dodgers. Now, however, it’s not certain that he’ll return to the mound this season in any capacity.

Axford isn’t the only reliever the Blue Jays have lost to injury lately, either, as right-handers Ryan Tepera and Bud Norris have been sidelined with right elbow inflammation and forearm fatigue, respectively. Per Davidi, the Blue Jays offered Norris a $100,000 retention bonus to prevent him from opting out of the minor league contract he signed in February.