Masahiro Tanaka: 'I'm very happy to be a Yankee'
The 25-year-old right-hander agreed Jan. 22 to a $155 million, seven-year contract and stopped in New York for a news conference at Yankee Stadium en route to the team's spring training complex in Tampa, Fla., where workouts start this weekend.
Tanaka put on his No. 19 jersey and, speaking in English, said "I'm very happy to be a Yankee."
Tanaka charted the Japan Airlines plane, which seats about 200, at what was reported to be a cost of about $200,000 for a flight said to include five passengers and his poodle Haru.
New York held the news conference in its Legends Suite Club rather than its regular press conference room adjacent to the clubhouse. Yankees spokesman Jason Zillo said it was the team's most-attended news conference since Hideki Matsui was introduced before the 2003 season.
"This is Yankee big. This is Steinbrenner big," general manager Brian Cashman said.
Tanaka was 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA last year, leading the Rakuten Golden Eagles to the Japan Series title.
He said his first meal in New York was sushi from a grocery store.
Tanaka spoke with Matsui and understands the Yankees' win-or-else mentality.
"I've heard that this place can be very harsh to you at times," he said through a translator. "I just wanted to put myself in this environment and see where I could get to with my ability."
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