Kensuke Tanaka held a press conference at the Nippon Ham Fighters offices in Sapporo today and announced that he planned to exercise his international FA option in order to pursue a career in the MLB.
Said Tanaka, "I started thinking about the Majors about four years ago and little by little, my feeling to go grew stronger. It led to my decision today. Playing in a new environment can become a plus for a baseball player."
He also said, "I decided I would attempt [to play in the MLB] no matter what happened. My feelings did not change even after I got hurt. I would like to play baseball in a new place while coming into contact with all kinds of cultures."
UPDATE @ 2:28pm --
Nikkan Sports has posted parts of the Q&A from his press conference:
What are you thoughts right now?
The Fighters took care of me for thirteen years and I feel sad. I think I need to move forward and work hard toward my next goal.
What are you thoughts with regards to the team?
I am extremely grateful to them. They spent a lot of time speaking to me about staying, but they ultimately respected my decision. I would like to go as if I am leaving my nest in Hokkaido.
What prompted the decision?
I want to know what I am capable of in a different environment. I want to study. I will play for any team that is willing to give me a chance.
What kind of player do you see yourself as?
I am not good a hitting home runs and I have no power. If I can perhaps show people that a player like me can make it in the world. I think it would be fun to face [Yu] Darvish.
Source: Nikkan Sports 11/6/2012
UPDATE 11/7 @ 9:47pm - Sports Hochi has also posted parts of the Q&A from Tanaka's press conference. I've selected the ones not covered up above:
Have you spoken to any former Nippon Ham Fighters that are playing in the Majors?
I have spoken to [Yoshinori] Tateyama and [Yu] Darvish and they taught me a few things.
Is there are particular team you would like to play for?
In terms of teams, I would like to play for a team that can understand what I have done in order to help my team win.
Your memories with Nippon Ham?
The 2006 Nippon Series. I would like to see [Mitsuo] Yoshikawa become one of the top pitchers in the league. I would also like to see players like [Takuya] Nakashima, [Haruki] Nishikawa, and [Kenshi] Sugiya step up and help pull this team together.
How is your English?
I hired a tutor and we started from the basics.
Source: Sports Hochi 11/7/2012