Saturday, February 15, 2014

TAMPA, Fla. -- Pitchers and catchers officially reported to camp yesterday, and on Saturday, the Yankees held their first workout of the spring. Pitchers threw bullpens, and then ran some laps around the field, to which not everyone was satisfied with.

Tanaka throws 32 pitches: Throwing alongside Ivan Nova and Hiroki Kuroda, Masahiro Tanaka threw a 32 pitchers bullpen session in front of more than a hundred media members, though manager Joe Girardi said none of the pitches were thrown at full-speed.

"I didn't think he was trying to do too much," Girardi said. "I thought he had a good plan when he went out there today of what he was trying to do, and I thought he executed it."

After getting off of the mound, Tanaka had to run four laps around the field -- the same thing as running a mile -- and said afterwards that it was more than he expected to do.

“I actually didn't know that I was going to run this much," Tanaka said through an interpreter. "I’m a little bit of a slow runner, but that part I really can’t help.”

"Everybody's talking about the guy, so when he threw a bullpen, even I stopped to watch him," Nova said. "He's really good, I mean in the bullpen, anyway. I saw some videos of him pitching, too. I'm excited that he's here. It was a huge upgrade for this team."

CC Sabathia also threw a bullpen on the four-person mound at the same time as Tanaka.

Banuelos: 'This is my year': Manny Banuelos has not pitched off the mound in live games in almost two years. He only threw 24 innings in 2012 before hurting his elbow and forcing him to undergo Tommy John Surgery.

But now Banuelos, who will turn 23 on March 13th, is healthy and ready to be a part of the Yankees' big league club this year.

"This is my year," Banuelos said Saturday morning.

Contrary to what you might think, Banuelos is not just in camp to gain some experience pitching to Major League hitters. He has a chance to be in the Yankees' bullpen on Opening Day as the second lefty.

"Banuelos has got that big arm," a front office source recently told "If it's still there and the lightning still strikes then you're going to see people say, 'F--- it, bring him with us [on Opening Day].'"

Before the surgery, he was throwing the ball in the mid-to-high 90's, hitting 96/97 mph, and is now throwing around 93/94 mph. Pitchers in the past the have opted for Tommy John tend to come back throwing just as hard, if not harder, as they were before the surgery.

The next step for Banuelos will be to throw a bullpen on Sunday, then face live hitters on Wednesday.

Nova not giving himself a spot: We were been operating the entire offseason think that Nova would be the 4th starter in the Yankees' rotation this season. But wasn't was thinking like the rest of us.

Even though he finished off the great for the Yankees in 2013, Nova doesn't think that he is guaranteed a spot on in the starting rotation, and that he must fight for one during spring training.

“I’m still in a competition,” Nova said. “Nothing is sure. I know that CC can be sure, Kuroda, Tanaka. I'm one of the young guys. I've got to be doing the best out there in the competition.”

His manager, Joe Girardi, however, was a little bit more optimistic.

“We expect Nova to be in our rotation, but I love that attitude,” Girardi said. “You have to perform. The bottom line is it’s a performance-based business, so you have to go out and perform, but I love that attitude.”

Don't call him J.R.: Backup catcher candidate J.R. Murphy let it known on Saturday that he would rather have fans and media know him as John Ryan Murphy, his full name name.

Murphy said he was called John Ryan as a kid to distinguish him from his father, who is known as John Mark. He added that he doesn't really mind being called "J.R." or "Murph," but won't answer to just John.

"That's the only thing that annoys me," he said.

Up next: The team will be back at it on Sunday for Day 2 of workouts, with pitchers and catchers slated to hit the field around 10am EST.


Gavin Ewbank is the Lead Writer of Yanks Beat Blog, and you can follow him on Twitter (below).


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