Tanaka surprised to be replacing Stroman in ASG

ByColey Harvey ESPN logo
Sunday, July 7, 2019

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- New York Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka said he was caught off-guard when manager Aaron Boone delivered the news that he would be replacing Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Marcus Stroman on the American League's All-Star roster.

"It was similar to how everybody else, including you guys reacted: pretty surprised," Tanaka told reporters Sunday.

For much of the season, Tanaka has had a tough time finding consistency with his bread-and-butter pitch: his splitter. Those troubles have resulted, in part, in him allowing 16 home runs -- nine shy of the 25 he had all of last season -- and put him on pace to give up the most hits in a single season of his career.

"I was just surprised because I never thought I would be selected," Tanaka said. "When you kind of look at your stats and things like that, and because I was already making plans of what to do for the All-Star break, that's why I was surprised."

Pirates closer Felipe Vazquez and Brewers right-hander Brandon Woodruff were also added to the All-Star Game rosters on Sunday, replacing Arizonapitcher Zack Greinke (personal matter) and Brewers closer Josh Hader (back stiffness).

Stroman, the Blue Jays lone All-Star, backed out of next week's game due to a nagging pectoral injury.

This is Tanaka's second All-Star Game selection but will mark the first time he's appeared in the Midsummer Classic. Picked for the 2014 game in Minneapolis, Tanaka went on the Yankees' disabled list a week before the game due to right elbow inflammation. He wouldn't return until that following September.

"This time around, I get to go there and be part of the celebration," Tanaka said through an interpreter before Saturday's Yankees-Rays game at Tropicana Field. "Overall, I'm very happy about it."

Tanaka -- who earned a no-decision in Friday's extra-innings Yankees win over the Rays, and who has also allowed three or fewer hits in three starts so far this year -- goes into this year's All-Star break with a 5-5 record and a 3.86 ERA.

Before his mid-July elbow injury that year, Tanaka went into the 2014 All-Star break with a 12-4 record and 2.51 ERA.

"Always good to know one of your guys that has played such a big role in us being in this position in the first half gets to represent us and the American League in the All-Star Game," Boone said, referring to his team's first-place lead in the AL East.

Tanaka joins infielders DJ LeMahieu and Gleyber Torres, catcher Gary Sanchez and closer Aroldis Chapman in Cleveland. Fellow Yankees starting pitcher CC Sabathia was not voted into the game, but the commissioner's office has invited him and his family to be part of the game's festivities as the former Indians first-round draft pick ends his 19-year career this season.

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