Yanks energized, optimistic as pitchers and catchers report
Girardi, Tanaka meet with media on first official day of Spring Training
TAMPA, Fla. -- Get ready to shake off that brutal winter up north, because the date we have all had circled on our calendars has arrived. Friday was the official report date for Yankees pitchers and catchers, who have filtered into George M. Steinbrenner Field.
Manager Joe Girardi held his annual opening news conference in the pavilion outside the Yanks' spring home at 11 a.m. ET., marking the beginning of camp as he addressed the many questions that surround this year's squad.
"I think when you look at this team, I think we've added a lot of good young arms," Girardi said. "I think we've added some good young players as well. My observation on this team is, it's probably going to be as competitive a camp as I've been in, just because of all the new players and the young players and the spots that are open here. That is a little bit different than what we've been used to."
Girardi's news conference was televised live on the YES Network, and for the first time, Girardi answered questions from fans submitted via Twitter using the hashtag #BeAPartOfIt.
Friday was report day, meaning that the pitchers and catchers must simply check into the area. For some, like CC Sabathia, that involves weighing in and dropping off equipment at a locker, but several players did more.
There has already been plenty of action on the back fields of the complex. Many of the pitchers arrived early to work with pitching coach Larry Rothschild, including right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, who started his second big league season by tossing 21 pitches from a bullpen mound on Thursday morning.
Tanaka said Friday that he was able to work on his shoulder and elbow area more during the offseason, and he had an MRI in October that showed no issues. As such, he is optimistic about a full recovery from a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament.
"I feel it's healed," Tanaka said through an interpreter. "I'm confident that I can get through this season."
Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller, who will be competing for duties as the Yankees' fourth closer in four years, headline the group of hurlers who have been running sprints and tossing at the team's Minor League complex. Nathan Eovaldi, whom the Yanks acquired from the Marlins in a December trade, has also been present. The first official workout for pitchers and catchers will take place on Saturday morning.
Chase Headley, Brian McCann and Garrett Jones were among the earliest-arriving position players, and they have already swung the bat on the diamond at Steinbrenner Field in preparation for the spring ahead. Carlos Beltran is also in camp. Yankees position players are due to arrive in camp on Wednesday, and the first full-squad workout is set for Thursday.