Masahiro Tanaka sounded pretty sure he will wear a protective insert in his hat Saturday night when he makes his first start of the season against the Red Sox.
And he was adamant that he won’t be spooked by the memory of getting hit in the head on July 4 by a Giancarlo Stanton liner that was clocked at 112 mph and left him with a concussion.
“When I went on the mound at Scranton I didn’t think of it at all,’’ Tanaka said on a Zoom call Friday afternoon before the Yankees’ 5-1 win over the Red Sox. He faced hitters at the Yankees’ alternate site earlier this week. “That said, I think I should be fine.’’
As for the insert that will be worn on right side of his hat in the area where the ball struck him and sent him to the dirt, Tanaka said it was suggested by the medical staff.
“I think I will wear that in the game [Saturday]. I didn’t know about it. It was the trainers who recommended and wanted to know if I wanted to try this on,” Tanaka said. “I was on board with that and I did try it on. It actually turned out it didn’t bother me at all. You kind of forget that it is even in there. So that is when I felt this might work and also it gives me peace of mind, obviously and it will protect me in a sense, too. That is why I most likely use that in [Saturday’s] game.’’
Asked how deep he could go against the Red Sox, Tanaka said until he is removed from the game.
“I am not sure how many pitches I will be given. I guess we will see. Just compete on the mound until [Boone] takes the ball away from me,’’ Tanaka said.
In addition to missing time due to the concussion, Tanaka has been faced with the challenges of working around the hurdles that COVID-19 has presented.
“Given the situation we are in it is challenging but every single player is in the same situation,’’ Tanaka said. “So there is really no excuse for that. My mindset for that is just to go out there and compete and be the best version that I can.’’
With COVID-19 hitting the Marlins hard and forcing them and the Phillies to pause their seasons and the Cardinals-Brewers game Friday night to be postponed, Tanaka addressed the issue.
“I feel like this was almost expected. In that sense I am not overly shocked or overly worried but obviously it is a concern that this is happening,’’ Tanaka said. “I think it is kind of a reminder that we really need to be responsible in the action and behavior we take.’’
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