Masahiro Tanaka is hoping to avoid another slow start in 2019.
The Yankees' right-hander was in Tampa on Tuesday as pitchers and catchers continue to report for Spring Training but Tanaka has been putting in plenty of work already.
The 30-year-old told reporters that he is already ahead of schedule this year compared to previous years.
"I was able to workout somewhere a little warmer than usual this year," he said via a translator. "I feel my throwing program is a little bit ahead of where I used to be last year. As far as how I train my body, nothing drastically different."
Tanaka was the Yankees' No. 2 pitcher last season but struggled early, pitching to a 4.62 ERA and striking out 58 batters in 62.1 innings pitched through May 27.
From June 2 onward, he posted a 3.17 ERA and struck out 101 batters in 93.2 innings.
The concern with Tanaka usually involves his right elbow, which he had a partially torn UCL but declined to have Tommy John surgery. He had a bone spur removed from the elbow after the 2015 season and questions about its durability still come up, yet Tanaka said he does not treat the elbow any differently.
"I'm not conscious of that, I guess," he said. "I don't exercise the elbow more so than the other [muscles] -- I don't do anything specifically for the elbow."
Last season, Tanaka spent time on the disabled list -- now called the injured list -- after straining both his hamstrings while running the bases in an interleague road game against the Mets.
While talks of a universal DH has surfaced recently, Tanaka did not seem to have any problems with pitchers hitting despite it costing him part of his 2018 season.
"I grew up in where baseball was played by nine guys -- the pitcher would hit also -- I really enjoyed that baseball," he said. "That's what I can say about that right now."