Tanaka makes splashy arrival as a Yankee

Reuters News
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Posted: Feb 11, 2014 2:35 PM

By Larry Fine

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Masahiro Tanaka got off to a flying start as the New York Yankees' latest big-money player at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday after a splashy arrival.

"Hello. My name is Masahiro Tanaka. I'm very happy to be Yankee," the 25-year-old Japanese pitcher told a massive news conference at Yankee Stadium after donning a pinstriped uniform No. 19 in the exclusive Legends Suite behind home plate.

Tanaka flew in from Japan on Sunday with a party of six that included his pop-star wife Mai Satoda and two-year-old toy poodle Haru aboard a Japan Airlines 787 Boeing Dreamliner jet built to carry 200 and chartered at a cost of almost $200,000.

The right-hander, who possesses a wicked, diving splitter and who went 24-0 last season for Japanese league champions Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, signed a seven-year, $155 million deal with the Yankees.

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman looked out over the packed assembly, dominated by members of the Japanese media, and beamed.

"This is big. This is something that would make The Boss (the late owner George Steinbrenner) proud," said Cashman.

"The Yankees are obviously all about trying to acquire the best talent. But he (Steinbrenner) also liked a lot of attention, and this certainly is. This is Yankee-big. This is Steinbrenner-big.

"As we welcome the newest addition to the Yankee family. Tanaka-san."

The addition of Tanaka crowned a hectic off-season for the Yankees, who in an injury-plagued season, missed the playoffs for just the second time in 19 years.

New York lost second baseman Robinson Cano to free agency and third baseman Alex Rodriguez to a season-long doping suspension, and added outfielders Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran and catcher Brian McCann among others.

Tanaka was a key acquisition in the reconstruction of the Yankees' pitching staff following the retirements of Andy Pettitte and closer Mariano Rivera.

"We knew we had to address a lot of areas," said Yankee manager Joe Girardi, a former major league catcher.

"To me, personally, it always starts with pitching. We knew that we had to address our rotation. He was the player that we coveted ... a very important piece of the puzzle to where we want to be, in the World Series."

(Reporting by Larry Fine)