4/5/2014 11:58 A.M. ET
Tanaka's poise apparent leading up to debut
By Bryan Hoch / MLB.com
TORONTO -- Masahiro Tanaka sat in a folding chair in front of his assigned locker in the visiting clubhouse at Rogers Centre on Friday afternoon, adjusting his uniform while wearing a placid expression across his face.
If the 25-year-old right-hander was feeling any jitters in the hours leading up to his globally televised Major League debut, it certainly didn't show. The Yankees have been encouraged by Tanaka's cool demeanor, which they take as a sign that he is ready for this challenge.
Asked what has impressed him most about Tanaka, Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that it has been "the way he's adapted to what we've asked him to do, whether it's been his schedule or his side work; getting used to the American baseball culture over here."
Tanaka signed a seven-year, $155 million contract with the Yankees in January, but he has been a star in Japan since his high school days. A bright spotlight is nothing new for Tanaka, who has showed no signs of being rattled.
"I'll watch it, but I don't think it'll be a problem at all," said Brian McCann, who is catching Tanaka's debut. "He's pitched some big things over in Japan -- basically since he's been 16, 17 years old. I expect [this] to be no different."
Girardi said that the biggest adjustment that Tanaka will be challenged to handle is bouncing back to pitch every five days, instead of every seven days in Japan. The Yankees will watch Tanaka for signs of fatigue during the season, and Girardi said that he is allowing his starters to get up to around 100 pitches in their first starts.
Tanaka could later extend to 110-115 pitches, but certainly will stay well under the 160 pitches he fired in the penultimate game of last year's Japan Series for the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles.
Girardi said that he believes having veteran Japanese right-hander Hiroki Kuroda on the staff has eased Tanaka's assimilation into the Yanks' clubhouse.
"Part of me feels that having Kuroda helps, because he's someone who went through that transition, and it has worked well for him," Girardi said. "Sometimes when you see that with someone that maybe you looked up to or followed when you were younger, you're saying, 'If it worked for him, it can work for me.'"
Right hamstring strain forces Teixeira to DL
TORONTO -- Even with all of their offseason remodeling, the Yankees never came up with a concrete plan to prepare for losing Mark Teixeira from their lineup for an extended period of time.
Four games into the regular season, they have been forced to scramble for a "Plan B." Teixeira, who strained his right hamstring in the second inning of the Yankees' 7-3 victory over the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre on Friday, was placed on the 15-day disabled list Saturday. The Yankees recalled catcher Austin Romine from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to take Teixeira's spot on the active roster. Teixeira had hoped to avoid the DL, but said Friday that he was "not super optimistic about it."
"I definitely don't want to go on the DL," Teixeira said. "I'm really hoping that [Saturday] morning, I wake up, we go through some stuff with the doctors, and it feels good. But we'll see."
Teixeira is scheduled to have an MRI on Monday in New York. Yankees manager Joe Girardi suggested after the win vs. the Blue Jays that the Yanks' travel schedule -- the team did not make it to Toronto from Houston until 6 a.m. ET on Friday -- may have been a contributing factor for the first baseman's injury.
"It kind of leaves you scrambling a little bit," Girardi said. "Why it happens, and there's always those concerns. Today before the game started, my concern was fatigue for guys. We don't ever know why a guy gets hurt, but I was concerned about tonight."
The injury occurred when Teixeira pursued a foul ball during the second inning, reaching for the back of his right leg. He gestured to the Yankees' dugout and briefly spoke with Girardi and head athletic trainer Steve Donahue on the field before coming out of the game.
"I knew it was going to be foul, but I went and caught it anyway," Teixeira said. "I just took an awkward step, and when I landed, I felt a grab in my hamstring. It wasn't one of those excruciating, fall-to-the-ground-because-of-the-pain [injuries], but it was significant enough that I knew something was wrong."
Teixeira also strained his right hamstring in Game 4 of the 2010 American League Championship Series, effectively ending his season. At the time, the Yankees estimated a six-to-eight week recovery period, based upon the severity of that Grade 2 strain.
Teixeira said that Friday's injury did not feel as severe, but he is frustrated after being limited to just 15 games last year by a right wrist injury that required season-ending surgery.
"It's just really disappointing, because this whole Spring Training, my legs have felt really good," Teixeira said. "No problems doing anything, and it's just a weird thing."
With Teixeira out of the lineup, Kelly Johnson may be pressed into more duty at first base. Johnson worked out this spring at first base and replaced Teixeira there after Friday's injury, but he spent more time this spring getting reps at third base, where he was expected to be the regular starter in Alex Rodriguez's absence.
"It's day to day," Johnson said. "I'm going to get more comfortable as I play more over there, just like anything. Not too bad. [First base is] a lot more similar to third than it is to second. Getting over there at third and getting to first is not too bad."
The Yankees had Alfonso Soriano take ground balls at first base this spring, but abandoned the experiment, saying that there was not enough time to make him a serviceable option. They also talked about Russ Canzler as a potential backup first-base option this spring; Canzler is at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and is not on the 40-man roster.
Humble Anna makes Major League debut
TORONTO -- The drive from the Bo Jackson Elite Sports training center in Lockport, Ill., to Rogers Centre can be made with about a half-day and a few tanks of gasoline, as Dean Anna's close friends can now attest.
Making the jump from teaching tee-ballers baseball fundamentals to playing shortstop for the Yankees takes considerably longer, and that's something Anna can tell you plenty about.
Anna, 27, made his Major League debut for New York on Friday, stepping in as Derek Jeter's understudy with the Yankees opening a three-game series in Toronto. He picked up his first big league hit in the ninth inning of a 7-3 win.
Anna said that he never could have anticipated this series of developments.
"I didn't. I really didn't," Anna said. "I'm lucky. I'm happy to be a Yankee. It's amazing, an amazing feeling. The history, it's top-notch."
A part-time player for his first four years in the Padres' system, Anna led the Pacific Coast League in hitting with a .331 average last year for Triple-A Tucson, but San Diego did not promote him to the Majors. Instead, they traded him to New York last November for right-hander Ben Paullus, providing a fresh start that excited Anna.
Around the time of the trade, Anna was reporting for his offseason job underneath a dome in the suburbs of Chicago, where he is an employee of Jackson's facility. Anna said that for the last three years, he has been teaching baseball fundamentals to athletes from age 6 all the way up to high school and college.
"I'm big over there with helping out the kids and stuff, all year round," Anna said. "It's a good time. I enjoy doing that. ... I can give information that I never really got when I was growing up. That's the best part of the youth coming up, you want to give them as much as possible."
Those kids had something to cheer about when Anna made the Yanks' roster in his first big league Spring Training camp. Anna said that two of his fellow instructors from his offseason job made the long trek to Toronto for the game; his parents, meanwhile, will watch on TV back home in Illinois.
"I can't ask for more, that's for sure," Anna said.
Robertson gets first save post Mariano
TORONTO -- The baseball has a spot on the top shelf of David Robertson's locker, for now. It is not a milestone in the traditional sense, a souvenir from the ninth save of Robertson's career, but the fact that it is the first one following Mariano Rivera's retirement seems to hold some significance.
Robertson nailed down the final three outs of the Yankees' 4-2 victory over the Astros on Thursday at Minute Maid Park, and he made sure to bring the keepsake ball on the charter flight to Toronto.
"It's not my first one, though; it's not as big of a deal," Robertson said. "I haven't really thought of it that much."
Robertson said that the appearance "felt like a normal big league game," and he seems to be over any novelty of taking the role from Rivera, baseball's all-time saves leader with 652. Robertson said that it felt much more important just to lock down a victory.
"It's nice to actually get a win for us," Robertson said. "I didn't have runners all over the place and didn't make it too dramatic, so that was better. I've been known to do that."
• Yankees captain Derek Jeter renewed acquaintances Friday with Dick Groch, the scout who signed Jeter out of Kalamazoo, Mich., back in 1992. Groch, now a special assistant with the Brewers, was at Rogers Centre for the Blue Jays' home opener.
• According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Yangervis Solarte (672 career Minor League games) and Dean Anna (554 career Minor League games) were the only players on a 2014 Opening Day big league roster who had played at least 500 games in the Minors without having previously played in the Majors.
• On this date in 1989, Yankees starter Tommy John set a Major League record by pitching in his 26th season, a record since broken by Nolan Ryan with 27. John allowed two runs in seven innings against the Twins at the Metrodome, earning the 287th win of his career.