Masahiro Tanaka hasn’t seemed fazed by anything since reporting to training camp back in February. And he says that’s not about to change once the regular season starts. On Tuesday, Tanaka held his first press gathering since Joe Girardi officially named him the Yankees $155 million number 4 starter.
His first MLB start will come against the Blue Jays in Toronto on April 4. “Nothing too special, I’m just going to prepare for that day,’’ Tanaka said through an interpreter. When asked about facing Toronto, he said: “I understand how good the lineup is for the Blue Jays but once I get on the mound, I just have to go out there and do my best and get some outs.’’ When asked if he was excited, Tanaka replied: “Maybe it’s because I’m not thinking about it too much, but right now I am not overly excited,’’ Tanaka added, “but as we get closer to game day, I’m sure that excitement will come along.’’
Many high profile former Yankees have weighed in with their opinions on Tanaka. “I really like him,’’ Hall of Famer Goose Gossage said. “He’s a great kid. He’s got a great personality, it’s fun-loving. That is a great indicator with all the focus on him. He is fun to be around. In a way, he’s a little old school. I’m pretty amazed at how relaxed he seems under the circumstances.’’ Hall of Fame slugger Reggie Jackson also praised Tanaka’s strong presence, saying: “I know he just got here but it seems like he’s been here for a long time.’’
Girardi said the Yankees wanted to separate Hiroki Kuroda and Tanaka in the rotation because of their similar styles, and by being the fourth starter, Tanaka gets some extra rest. The Yankees are doing everything possible to keep the weight of the world off his shoulders, and to make sure Tanaka has a smooth, easy transition to MLB. Tanaka has showed poise and coolness on the mound early on. While he did have a solid spring training, this is where it really counts, and where the world is truly going to start to see if he has the stuff to be a successful major league starting pitcher. Tanaka may not be overly excited by all this, but this promises to be one exciting debut for just about everyone else.
See his debut by buying tickets from the Official NYY Ticket Exchange.