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[2/12/2014] Masahiro Tanaka News and Notes

by on Feb.12, 2014 @ 3:39 pm, under MLB

The latest on Masahiro Tanaka, from Wednesday, February 12, 2014.

  • The Yankees held a press conference for Tanaka at the Legends Club in Yankee Stadium on Tuesday.
  • Anywhere between 200 and 300 members of the media were in attendance.
  • Tanaka started out by saying, in English, "Hello.  My name is Masahiro Tanaka.  I'm very happy to a Yankee."
  • Tanaka got a tour of the stadium before the press conference.
  • Tanaka's first TV commercial in Japan as a Yankee will be for Kirin's Tanrei Nama.  He will be appearing in the commercial with Keisuke Honda.
  • Tanaka is currently staying at a hotel.  He met with Yankee officials on Monday at a restaurant at the hotel for a welcome meeting that lasted about ninety minutes.
  • Shingo Horie will most likely be Tanaka's personal interpreter.  He will work with Yoshiki Sato.

Source: ZakZak 2/12/2014, Nikkan Sports 2/12/2014, Sponichi 2/12/2014, Sponichi 2/12/2014, Sponichi 2/12/2014, Sponichi 2/12/2014

MLB.com: Yankees formally introduce Tanaka in Bronx

Daily Sports has posted portions of Tanaka's interactions with the media during the press conference.

US Media: The MLB baseball is bigger than the NPB baseball.  What kinds of adjustments did you make?

I think it is important to think you are going to make the adjustments, that you are going to try to make the adjustments.

JPN Media: Which team are you looking forward to facing?

I have not faced most of the teams, so I look forward to facing them all.

US: What is your number one goal?

To win a World Series.

US: You have probably already faced them in Japan, but are you ready to face players from South America?

Yes.

JPN: You have put on the pinstripes, do you feel like a member of the Yankees now?

I feel a little tense and it feels like I really have become a member of the Yankees.

JPN: What was your impression of New York?  What did you eat for your first meal?

I first saw New York when I was in high school and the weather was bad so I never had a chance to see a sunny New York before.  The weather is really nice this time and my impression of the city is really good.  I ate some sushi from a super market nearby.

US: The Yankees have signed Japanese players in the past.  They had a good experience with Hideki Matsui and a not so good experience with Kei Igawa.  Did you speak to either of the two?

I did have a chance to talk to Matsui a little over the phone.

US: The Yankees are always in the spotlight.  How will you handle the fans?  What are your thoughts on the rivalry with Red Sox?

I watched Red Sox - Yankee games on television in Japan and I could feel the intensity through the footage.  I am looking forward experiencing what that is like by being a part of it.

US: You mentioned speaking to Matsui over the phone.  What kind of things did you talk about?

He said it was a really nice place.  I did not talk to him for very long, but we spoke about stuff like that.

US: Why did you pick the Yankees?  Were there any teams that offered you larger contracts?

That is a little to comment on.  I head that New York was a really tough city and I felt like I wanted to take on that challenge.

[Interactions with the Japanese media]

How do you think you look in the uniform?

What did you guys think?

It looks good.

Well, that's good.

People say the uniform looks cool.

Well, I think it looks good.

What are your impressions of the new Yankee Stadium?

The outside looks really beautiful  and it's very big.  There is snow inside the stadium and I think they played some hockey in there, so I am not really sure [about that part of the stadium].  But I looked out there and thought about how I was going to be standing on that mound.

What about the locker room and the training room?

I have not seen them yet so I'm not really sure.

You'll be working out in Tampa tomorrow.  What will you be thinking about?

I have not been able to do much over the last few days so it would be nice if I can prepare for camp while getting used to things.

Do you feel the stadium is small?

I can't really tell right now.

Do you feel any pressure from signing a big contract?

The value [of the contract] has been mentioned a lot, but that is the amount the Yankees thought I was worth so I feel no pressure in that sense.  Regardless, whether or not I feel pressure does not change what I need to accomplish.  Getting on the mound and pitching to help the team win, that does not change.  I think what is important is preparing myself and getting to the mound.

The fans can be critical.

I have a lot about that as well, but I am not trying to think about failing all the time and instead, I am trying to picture the fans cheering for me because I am pitching well.

What is the key to success in America?

I would be good to [always] pitch off the mound in good shape, but I know that will be difficult.  There is also matching up against the hitters.  Hopefully I can figure things out as I pitch.

When did you think about your English introduction?

Just a little while ago.

You said you could not speak English.

But, if I am going to play baseball here, then it would be good to know some English.  Foreign players that came to Japan spoke Japanese.  If there is something I can do [to make things better], then I think I should do it.

Do you feel excited?

Yes, I feel excited.

Did you notice the fans when you came to the stadium?

Yes.  There wasn't enough to call it cheering, but I could feel the intensity.

Your splitter is getting a lot of attention.  Do you think that will be your pitch?

Of course, that is one of my better pitches, but I am not sure until I throw it over here.

Have you spoken to Ichiro or Kuroda?

I spoke to them briefly over the phone.

Were you have an Ichiro fan?

Well, I am from Itami, so the Orix in Kobe felt close.  Everyone was copying his swing.  It would be strange for me to say that I wasn't a fan, but it wasn't like I was a fan, I just watched him and felt he was an amazing player.

Is there anything you want to ask Kuroda?

[There will be] as I get used to things.  It would be nice if I can asked him about things that I am not sure about, or have questions about.

You spent seven years in the pros in Japan.  You will spend seven years in the Majors.  It might be difficult say, but how do you imagine yourself seven years from now?

I am not really sure.  I never thought I would be standing here after seven years in the pros, so I can not imagine it.

Source: Daily Sports 2/12/2014

[UPDATE 2/13 @ 1:29am]

Tanaka tweeted that he made it to Tampa after his press conference in New York.  Source: Sponichi 2/12/2014