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Skipping Tanaka not on Yanks' agenda

MLB.com

NEW YORK -- The Yankees are standing by struggling ace Masahiro Tanaka. Manager Joe Girardi said Wednesday there are no plans to skip the right-hander in the rotation.

"We're still on rotation," Girardi said. "There's different things that we talk about. I'm not ready to share anything with you yet."

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NEW YORK -- The Yankees are standing by struggling ace Masahiro Tanaka. Manager Joe Girardi said Wednesday there are no plans to skip the right-hander in the rotation.

"We're still on rotation," Girardi said. "There's different things that we talk about. I'm not ready to share anything with you yet."

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Pitching coach Larry Rothschild confirmed there are no plans to skip Tanaka, who is slated to pitch Sunday at home against the Orioles. However, Rothschild did say the Yankees could "possibly back him up until Monday" against the Mike Trout-less Angels lineup, which poses less of a threat to a rebounding pitcher than a Baltimore lineup that shelled him the last time he faced the Orioles.

Most of what's being talked about is how to get Tanaka going during what's turned into the worst stretch of his career. Tanaka lost his fifth consecutive start Tuesday against the Red Sox. He's allowed 27 earned runs through 22 2/3 innings in that span for a 10.72 ERA.

Both Girardi and Rothschild said they've figured out what Tanaka needs to do to get back on track. The problem is getting him to make that change on a consistent basis.

"I think it all stems from the same thing. We need to make sure we can solidify his release point," Rothschild said. "That's an oversimplification of what we need to do."

Girardi said every day when Tanaka comes in, the pitcher says he feels fine, and there's no physical indication that Tanaka is hurt, especially considering there hasn't been a dip in his fastball velocity. The problem, the manager said, lies in Tanaka's inconsistent slider and splitter.

"I have been inconsistent. Obviously I'm trying to fix that," Tanaka said Tuesday through an interpreter. "As for [Tuesday], I think I made some good pitches and bad pitches in the game. The bad ones, I think I missed. They were crucial mistakes and they went right down the middle."

On the year, Tanaka is 5-6 with a 6.55 ERA. The righty posted a winning record and an ERA of 3.51 or lower in each of his previous three seasons in the big leagues.

Ellsbury rides stationary bike
After the Yankees announced Saturday in Toronto that they were shutting down Jacoby Ellsbury from all baseball activities after he told them his headaches had returned, the outfielder said that he would ride the stationary bike Wednesday.

"We're starting on the bike and going from there," Ellsbury said. "The biggest thing is just getting my heart rate up and not making it worse."

Ellsbury hasn't resumed baseball activities yet, but the plan is to see how he feels each day and progress accordingly. Ellsbury did say he feels better, though the extent of how much better he feels depends on the day.

"I'm still having some headaches, but I talked to the doc and we're definitely making progress and heading in the right direction."

Matthew Martell is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York.

New York Yankees, Masahiro Tanaka