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Tommy John, 45, Will Be the Opening Day Starter for the N.Y. Yankees

Tommy John, 45, the oldest player in the major leagues and a pitcher the New York Yankees didn’t want, will be their opening day starter.

“He’s one in a million,” Manager Dallas Green said Sunday in giving the April 4 assignment at Minnesota to the 286-game winner. “How many other 45-year-old guys are out there cranking up on Opening Day or even cranking up? Many of them are struggling to get out of bed.”

John, who was initially unwanted by Green and was brought to the Yankees’ spring training camp at the insistence of principal owner George Steinbrenner, has allowed only two earned runs in 17 exhibition innings, a 1.06 ERA.

“I’m still right,” Green insisted. “Forty-five year-old guys shouldn’t be pitching in the big leagues, but he’s unique.

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“I saw him get people out on a consistent basis. He’s been right all spring. He’s used his stuff to get people out, used his knowledge to get people out. He’s been a professional.”

This will be John’s 26th major league season, which ties him with Deacon McGuire for the most major league seasons played.


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