5/2/2014 7:36 P.M. ET
Tanaka is his own harshest critic
By Bryan Hoch / MLB.com
NEW YORK -- Asked to evaluate his performance through his first five big league starts, Masahiro Tanaka smirked in front of his locker on Friday, wiggling his right hand.
"So-so," Tanaka said in English.
The Yankees would beg to differ, especially considering the current state of their rotation. Tanaka is 3-0 with a 2.27 ERA heading into his sixth start, on Saturday against the Rays, making him a pillar of what suddenly seems to be an uncertain group.
"I think he expects an awful lot from himself," manager Joe Girardi said. "I think he set a high standard for himself last year, and I don't know if he's comparing it to that. He expects a lot from himself, and I think it's what really pushes him to be great."
Tanaka, 25, went 24-0 last season for the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, and his talents have translated well to the Majors thus far. Fueled by a world-class splitter, he has already compiled 46 strikeouts, setting a record for any Yankees pitcher through his first five career starts.
"I'm not satisfied with how I've pitched," Tanaka said through an interpreter. "I've given up runs, particularly early in the game. That part kind of bothers me. There are other parts as well. But that's one thing that has bothered me."
Girardi has been impressed by Tanaka's ability to make in-game adjustments, giving the Yankees a chance to win regardless of the quality of his stuff on any given day.
"I think it just comes with experience," Tanaka said. "Since becoming a pro, I've pitched in over 1,000 innings. Obviously, Day 1 up to now, I feel that I'm able to adjust myself way better in the games compared to, say, my first year and second year."
Girardi reaches milestone with 1,000th game as skipper
NEW YORK -- Joe Girardi celebrated a notable milestone on Friday, as he filled out the lineup card for his 1,000th game as manager of the Yankees before the opener of a three-game series against the Rays at Yankee Stadium.
Girardi became the seventh active skipper to manage 1,000 or more games with his current team, and the sixth in franchise history to reach the plateau.
"It kind of shocked me yesterday when I heard about it," Girardi said. "I'm fortunate and blessed, is probably the best way to put it for me. I'm able to do what I love to do in a place that I love to be, for a long time. That's kind of what it says to me."
Girardi joins a select "1,000 club" of Yankees managers that also includes Miller Huggins (1918-29), Joe McCarthy (1931-46), Casey Stengel (1949-60), Ralph Houk (1961-63, '66-73) and Joe Torre (1996-2007).
As he enters the group of active managers who have been with their current club for 1,000 games, Girardi has the best winning percentage, going into Friday's action at .580 (579-420).
The Angels' Mike Scioscia is next on the list, with a .543 winning percentage (1,247-1,048). The Rangers' Ron Washington, the Rays' Joe Maddon, the Twins' Ron Gardenhire, the Giants' Bruce Bochy and the Padres' Bud Black are also in the group.
Girardi said that he might save Friday's lineup card as a keepsake.
"I don't ever take anything for granted," he said. "I understand that I have a job to do, and I have responsibilities. I really try to focus day to day. I don't try to get caught up in where I'm going to be next year, or five years, or 10 years. I've never done that. It's just not my personality, so that's worked well for me."
McCann battling through sluggish start to season
NEW YORK -- Brian McCann's sixth-inning single on Thursday snapped a hitless string of 15 at-bats for the Yankees catcher, who is fighting to come out of a sluggish offensive start to his pinstriped career.
McCann entered play on Friday batting .225 with three homers and 10 RBIs in his first 24 games as a Yankee, but wasted no time improving those numbers, taking Rays ace David Price deep in the second inning of the series opener.
He has had some company in struggling at the plate of late, but that isn't making the stretch easier to swallow.
"It's baseball. It happens," McCann said. "There's going to be times when everybody's clicking and we're putting up a lot of runs. I think you look over the course of 162 games, we're going to be successful more times than not."
McCann was a five-time Silver Slugger winner during his Braves career. He posted just a .614 OPS through his first 89 at-bats as a Yankee, the lowest among the 16 qualifying catchers in the Majors.
• Infielder Brendan Ryan is scheduled to play on Friday for Double-A Trenton. He could be activated from the disabled list on Monday against the Angels in Anaheim, when right-hander Michael Pineda will move from the restricted list to the DL. Ryan went 3-for-8 with Class A Tampa on Sunday and Monday.
• On this date in 1939, Lou Gehrig's consecutive streak of 2,130 games played came to an end, as he sat out the Yankees' 22-2 win over the Tigers at Briggs Stadium. Babe Dahlgren played first base, contributing a home run and a double.