Masahiro Tanaka to be the Yankees' Opening Day 2017 starter
There will be no such mystery in 2017, as Girardi stated less than 15 minutes into his spring-opening media session on Tuesday that Tanaka will make his third straight Opening Day start when the Yankees face the Tampa Bay Rays in St. Petersburg on April 2.
"Our plan is for him to be the Opening Day starter," Girardi said. "You've got to see where he's at, but I don't really see him being not our Opening Day starter unless something was to arise that I wasn't expecting. He's been the guy that's made the starts and that's kind of our plan."
As pitchers and catchers officially reported Tuesday morning, the skipper admitted he had not yet told Tanaka of the assignment, but pitching coach Larry Rothschild had.
"I haven't seen him personally, but Larry has talked to him about it and Larry and I have talked about it. That's our plan," Girardi said.
Tanaka is entering the fourth year of his seven-year deal, which he can opt out of following the 2017 season. The 28-year-old has made 75 starts as a Yankee, and is coming off a 2016 campaign where he went 14-4 with a 3.07 ERA in 31 starts and tossed a career-high 199 2/3 innings.
Rothschild told Newsday's Erik Boland last week that Tanaka is "ahead of where he was last year" and has "already been on the mound a little bit," but it's still unlikely that he will make the Grapefruit League opening start as well; Luis Severino drew that assignment in 2016, and the first of Tanaka's four official spring outings didn't come until the Yankees' fifth game on March 6.
In other rotation news from Girardi's opening press conference, the skipper said he believed the Yankees have "a lot of quality arms that can fill" their vacant rotation spots, and Adam Warren will indeed be one of those competing to fill a vacancy.
Warren, who has pitched in numerous roles for the Yankees over the last four seasons, threw exclusively in relief after he was re-acquired from the Cubs last July, but Girardi said that as has been the case with the righty each of his last few Yankees springs, Warren will come to camp as a starter.
"He's in (that competition); he will start games in Spring Training," Girardi said. "We will build him up as a starter and see where he's at compared to the other guys, and we will go from there."
With Tanaka, CC Sabathia, and Michael Pineda penciled into the rotation, Warren is part of at least a five-man competition - along with Luis Cessa, Chad Green, Bryan Mitchell, and Luis Severino, among possible others - for the final two spots in the rotation.