Flaherty: Ellsbury will feel right at home in BostonYankees analyst expects little discomfort for Ellsbury in return to Fenway Park
Ahead of Tuesday's opener, "Flash" sat down with YESNetwork.com to discuss Masahiro Tanaka's first appearance at Fenway Park, Jacoby Ellsbury's return to Fenway as a Yankee, Mark Teixeira's return to the lineup, and what to expect from Michael Pineda in his Wednesday start.
Flaherty on Masahiro Tanaka:
I thought it would take a little while for him to make the adjustment to American baseball, but he has made the adjustment look easy and handled it flawlessly. I'm curious if he will pitch differently knowing the Green Monster is right behind his right shoulder, but I expect him to pitch a good game against a Red Sox team that has scuffled a bit; he won't be in awe of Fenway or the crowd. He's going to try to keep the ball on the ground, but he's not the classic sinker-ball pitcher who keeps the ball on the ground. If he misses with his splitter and goes down and in on righties, it could be trouble at Fenway, so I'd expect him to throw the splitter a little farther over the plate, away, to hopefully stay away from the Monster a little bit. We may also see more sliders from him. It's just one of those things - you always see that Monster there; it's so close to you, it's imposing, and it will both give and take away hits. If you think about it too much, it will cause you trouble, but it's not easy not to think about it.
Flaherty on Jacoby Ellsbury's return to Fenway:
I have to believe fans will remember the two World Series and remember the type of player he was. I think they'll give him a nice hand before his first at-bat, but then it will change after that; people will remember that he's a Yankee now. He has had a smooth transition so far, and he is downplaying his going to Fenway, because that is his personality. He will be comfortable out there.
Flaherty on Mark Teixeira's return to the lineup:
I was impressed Sunday (in first game back vs. Tampa Bay) because he looked like he hasn't missed a beat. You don't realize how great he is at first base until he's not there. It's a huge thing for him to be back, both defensively and his being a switch-hitter in the middle of the lineup; it's a big deal for the Yankees. The Yankees are getting healthy, and the Red Sox haven't been able to gain traction. With David Robertson and Tex returning, it's a huge deal for them.
Flaherty on Michael Pineda:
I think he's proven to me that it's not going to be that big of a deal for him pitching at Fenway Wednesday; I thought he'd be a little amped up for his start against the Red Sox against Yankee Stadium and that the game may get away from him, but it didn't. I'm surprised, two years from surgery, that his command has been so good; he's been able to throw the ball over the plate pretty much whenever he wants to. I expected his control to be erratic, and it hasn't been; he's been consistent. I'm actually more interested in seeing how Tanaka will adjust to pitching at Fenway than Pineda.