NEW YORK -- With Masahiro Tanaka still struggling to figure out what has caused the worst slump of his professional career, the Yankees decided another meeting with the Orioles might not be in his best interest. So instead of sending Tanaka out to face Baltimore's strong lineup Sunday at Yankee Stadium, the Yankees pushed the right-hander's next start back to Monday night in Anaheim against the Angels.
The Yankees didn't immediately name a starter for Sunday. Manager Joe Girardi said they would wait to see which relievers they needed Friday night, and left open the possibility of calling up a starter from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
No matter who starts Sunday or how he does, the Yankees aren't planning to take Tanaka out of the rotation at this point. What they do want is to see him end a poor stretch in which he has given up 14 home runs and 34 earned runs in just 36 innings over his last seven starts. Tanaka's 6.55 ERA is second worst among Major League starters with enough innings to qualify, ahead of only Bartolo Colon (7.78) of the Braves.
Included in that poor stretch was a May 31 game in Baltimore. The Orioles knocked Tanaka around for seven runs on nine hits that day, and memories of that game led to Friday's decision to push Tanaka back a day.
"He's seen Baltimore a lot," Girardi said. "We just felt, let's give him an extra day. Let's just see if we can get him back on track."
Girardi has said the Yankees have concerns about Tanaka's confidence, so a start against a weaker-hitting Angels team might suit him better right now than another matchup with the hard-hitting Orioles.
"This guy's supposed to be our ace," Girardi said.
Tanaka termed the switch as "no big deal," and insisted his only problem in the last meeting with the Orioles was that he didn't throw enough first-pitch strikes.
"I feel like I understand why the command is not there," Tanaka said through an interpreter. "You try to fix that. It doesn't always work out in your favor."
Tanaka declined to go into detail about what he has done to try to fix his issues, saying only that it involved mechanics.
"You've got to deal with it," Tanaka said. "You've got to have a positive approach."
Whoever starts Sunday, the change will be the first the Yankees have made to their rotation this season. They are one of just three teams that has gone this far with only five starting pitchers (the Cardinals and Braves are the other two).
Chad Green, who made five Triple-A starts earlier this season and is currently in the Yankees' bullpen, is one obvious candidate for Sunday's start. Chance Adams, the Yankees' No. 7 prospect, is Sunday's scheduled starter for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, but starting him Sunday in the Bronx would require adding him to the 40-man roster. The Yankees could also choose Bryan Mitchell, who is on the 40-man roster and is scheduled to start for the RailRiders on Saturday night.
Chapman set to throw simulated game
Closer Albertin Chapman, on the disabled list since May 13 with left rotator cuff inflammation, remains on schedule to return next weekend in Oakland. Chapman will throw a simulated game Saturday in Tampa, Fla., then pitch an inning for Double-A Trenton either Monday or Tuesday.
"I'm very anxious to finish the process and get back here," Chapman said through an interpreter. "I feel ready. I feel good. My arm feels good. Thank God, no pain at all."