TAMPA, Fla. -- On the first day of workouts for pitchers and catchers, the four starters assured of spots in the Yankees rotation will be side-by-side, throwing simultaneous bullpen sessions on the back field at George M. Steinbrenner Field.
That means three of them will be stealing glances at the fourth one, the one who will have an army of print and electronic media from two continents scrutinizing and analyzing his every move.
Tanaka will join CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda and Ivan Nova under the canopy at 10:50 p.m., throwing between 30 and 40 pitches to Francisco Cervelli. (Sabathia gets Brian McCann, the starting catcher). It will only be the most closely watched bullpen session since Sabathia threw for the first time here back in 2009.
"I’m excited to get a chance to see him throw," Sabathia said. "From everything I’ve heard, he’s great. So I’m excited to have him on our team."
"Everybody's talking about the guy," Nova said. "When he threw a bullpen [Wednesday], I stopped to watch him. He's really good. It was a huge upgrade for this team."
"The guy can pretty much do whatever he wants with a baseball, which is pretty amazing," said McCann.
We'll have a full report on how Tanaka-san looks a little later on.
Teixeira in action: A less-heralded event will take place in left field of the main ballpark at about the same time Tanaka is throwing, when Mark Teixeira, coming back after missing practically all of 2013 after undergoing wrist tendon surgery, goes through a solo workout. First he'll work on defense with infield coach Mick Kelleher, and later in the indoor batting cages, which are off-limits to the media, with hitting coach Kevin Long. Hopefully, we'll get to talk with Teixeira after the workout when the clubhouse re-opens this afternoon.
J.R. is dead: Yes, the man formerly known as J.R. Murphy is no more. The 22-year-old catcher who GM Brian Cashman singled out to ESPNNewYork.com last week as a possibility to make the team has let it be known that from here on, he wants to be known as John Ryan Murphy.
"I've always been John Ryan to my family," he said. "It was only a baseball thing that they shortened my name to J.R."
Murphy said he was called John Ryan as a kid to distinguish him from his father, who is known as John Mark. He said he doesn't really mind being addressed as J.R. or Murph, but won't answer to just John.
"That's the only thing that annoys me," he said.
OK, then. John Ryan it is.