NEW YORK — Masahiro Tanaka will be wearing protection when he makes his first start of the 2020 season. After taking a Giancarlo Stanton line-drive comebacker to the top, right-side of his head on the very day of official summer workouts at Yankee Stadium, Tanaka will start Saturday against the Red Sox with a carbon-filter Kevlar panel in his hat.
“It was actually a trainer that recommended me to, if I wanted to try this on,” Tanaka said through interpreter Shigo Horie. “And I was on board with that so I did try it on and it actually turned out that it didn’t bother me at all. I just kind of forget that it’s even in there. So, that’s when I thought that this may work. Also it gives me a peace of mind, obviously, it actually will protect me in a sense too.”
Tanaka realizes how lucky he was. Stanton’s ball had an exit velocity of 112 miles an hour and hit Tanaka just above his temple. He dropped to the ground holding his head but never lost consciousness. He was diagnosed with a “mild concussion” but said he never felt the symptoms of a concussion after leaving the hospital that same night.
He had a slight thought about the accident before he got back up on the mound to face hitters for the first time last week. As he was ramping up at the alternate training site in Scranton, Tanaka said he forgot about the incident.
“Actually you just reminded me of that,” Tanaka said with a laugh. “When I went on the mound in Scranton the other day, I didn’t think of it at all! So that said I think I should be fine.”
The Yankees could use a good start from Tanaka Saturday to settle a shaky rotation. Aside from Gerrit Cole, the Yankees starters have struggled to start the season. James Paxton and J.A. Happ were not sharp in their first starts and the Yankees used Jonathan Loaisiga as an opener on Sunday.
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