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Yankees' Tanaka struggles with command

Masahiro Tanaka throws 30 of 50 pitches for strikes in two innings.

Associated Press

Masahiro Tanaka throws 30 of 50 pitches for strikes in two innings.

BRADENTON — Yankees RHP Masahiro Tanaka labored Thursday afternoon, lasting just two innings in a 7-2 win over the Pirates.

Tanaka gave up four hits and two runs. He threw just 30 of 50 pitches for strikes.

"A lot of long counts," manager Joe Girardi said. "I didn't think he was extremely sharp. You're going to have those days early on in spring training, his third start. So, we'll build off it."

INFs Rob Refsnyder and Starlin Castro homered for New York. Castro, the starting second baseman who played shortstop for the first time this spring, cleared the batter's eye in straightaway centerfield on his fifth-inning blast. He is batting .417.

"I'm happy we got him," Girardi said. "I think he's going to be a big part of our club."

BULLET DODGED: Yankees RHP Luis Severino walked away unscathed after a brief scare in the fifth inning when Starling Marte ripped a line drive back at the mound. Severino fell but made the catch.

"I was lucky," said Severino, who pitched four shutout innings. "I saw it all the way, heading for my face, put up my glove and caught it."

Jays: Diamond sharp

DUNEDIN — LHP Scott Diamond pitched two perfect innings in his bid for a roster spot as a Blue Jays split squad beat the Canadian junior national team 12-0.

Diamond, who has not allowed a run in five outings, struck out four. He hasn't appeared in a big league game since posting a 5.43 ERA in 24 starts for the Twins in 2013.

In the other split squad game, RHP Brad Penny gave up five runs on four hits and three walks in two innings in a 7-5 loss to the Astros.

INJURY REPORT: 1B/DH Edwin Encarnacion (strained oblique) participated in pregame warmup exercises, but manager John Gibbons said no timeline has been set for his return.

Phils: Strong pitch

CLEARWATER — Phillies RHP Vince Velasquez struck out seven and allowed one run in five innings in a 6-1 loss to the Rays, increasing his chances of winning the fifth starter's job.

Velasquez, who threw 74 pitches, has looked sharp, with a 3.21 ERA and 16 strikeouts in 14 innings. He's competing with LHPs Adam Morgan and Brett Oberholtzer for the final spot in the rotation.

"The changeup was money" Thursday, Velasquez said. "I enjoyed throwing it. I threw it four, five times in a row to one of the hitters. It goes back to confidence."

Yankees' Tanaka struggles with command 03/17/16 [Last modified: Thursday, March 17, 2016 8:08pm]
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