Yankees respond to Mike Napoli’s bashing of Masahiro Tanaka

Mike Napoli Red Sox
Mike Napoli could be heard shouting “What an idiot!” after hitting a home run off of the Yankees’ Masahiro Tanaka Saturday night in the Bronx.
Credit: Getty Images

Mike Napoli was so excited about getting a fastball from Masahiro Tanaka to drive over the right field fence for a go-ahead home run that when he greeted David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia in the dugout to celebrate, FOX picked him up saying, “What an idiot.”

While that might have enraged some Yankee fans, it seemed to be more of an emotional reaction to having a big hit. Napoli said to FOX’s Ken Rosenthal afterward that it was more of a surprise reaction since Tanaka had been getting him out on other pitches.

“I kind of heard second-hand,” manager Joe Girardi said before Sunday’s game. “I don’t make much of it. It’s yesterday. It’s heat of the moment. It doesn’t really change the complexion of the game or it doesn’t really change today’s game. I haven’t seen anything in Mike Napoli where he’s a guy that shows people up or he’s a guy that degrades people. I’ve never seen that in Mike Napoli, so I don’t make too much of it.”

Tanaka said he shook off Brian McCann twice because he wanted to set up another splitter or slider with a hard fastball. Tanaka picked up consecutive losses for the first time but the Yankees are not worrying about him.

“I think that he’ll be fine,” Girardi said. “The bottom line is and I think it gets lost is he pitched a great game. I don’t want him to lose sight of that — that he pitched well — and I won’t lose sight of it. If you score three runs, it’s not even talked about, so I think he’ll be fine.”

As for the Red Sox, manager John Farrell did not have any issue with it while also saying he and Napoli have the utmost respect for Tanaka.

“They’re looking to capture an emotion that might enhance the telecast,” he said. “The one thing we don’t ever want is our players to not be emotional.”

McCann up and down

Brian McCann will complete the first half of his first season with the Yankees on Monday. He likely will have an average in the .220s which is certainly not what he envisioned.

However, while Girardi acknowledged the low batting average and the lack of consistent production, there are other numbers that are significant. Since McCann is a catcher, those are the numbers behind the plate.

Entering Sunday, McCann has caught 504 of the 709 2/3 innings Yankee pitchers have thrown. He has caught 19 pitchers at least once to an ERA of 4.05. Of those 19, Masahiro Tanaka, David Robertson and Dellin Betances are all pitching in new roles.

Tanaka has a .211 batting average against pitching to McCann, Robertson is at .190 and Betances is at .114.

McCann has also had to make the transition from the American League to the National League.

“If you were to look solely at how our staff has done, [not just] his RBI totals and his home runs, you’d probably say he’s having a pretty good year,” Girardi said. “But when you look at that average that’s kind of glaring and I think people say you know what he’s not having the year that he’s capable of. I know he expects more of himself but some of the important numbers he’s doing a pretty good job at. He’s done a really good job with our staff. He’s with our eighth or ninth starter at this point. He had to learn a whole new league.”

McCann entered Sunday hitting .224 with nine home runs and 36 RBIs. His average has not been higher than .250 since April 24 and it has not climbed above .234 since that point.

“I think he’s at 36 RBI and we’re not even at the halfway point,” Girardi said. “So his season has been good. I think he expects more himself and I think he’s better than a .220 hitter and I think we’ll see that in the second half.”

Sabathia making progress

CC Sabathia began his tour of the minor league rehab circuit Saturday night in Tampa and threw 37 pitches in 2 1/3 innings. A day later, the Yankees said there were no issues with the inflamed right knee which has kept him out since mid-May.

Sabathia played catch Sunday and will throw a bullpen at Yankee Stadium on Monday. The belief is that he needs at least two more rehab starts. Since he is in New York, those would be with either Trenton or Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Follow Yankees beat writer Larry Fleisher on Twitter @LarryFleisher.


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