Tanaka meeting media at Stadium today
Yankees pitcher expected in New York for news conference prior to reporting to camp
NEW YORK -- Masahiro Tanaka is ready to arrive in the United States, and before he meets his new teammates in Florida at Spring Training, the prized right-hander will have his first chance to try on the pinstripes at Yankee Stadium.
The Yankees have scheduled a 1 p.m. ET news conference for Tuesday in the Bronx to introduce Tanaka to the New York media. The event can be seen live on MLB.com, yankees.com and the YES Network.
Managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner, team president Randy Levine, general manager Brian Cashman, manager Joe Girardi and COO Lonn Trost are all expected to attend, the team said.
Tanaka, 25, signed a seven-year, $155 million contract with the Yankees on Jan. 22, and recently received his visa, guaranteeing that he will be able to report to Spring Training on time.
Tanaka has been working out in Sendai, Japan, since signing his new contract. Yanks pitchers and catchers are due to report in Tampa, Fla. on Feb. 14, with their first workout scheduled for Feb. 15 at George M. Steinbrenner Field.
Tanaka was 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA in 28 games (27 starts) last season for the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles in Japan's Pacific League, ending his Nippon Professional Baseball career by celebrating Rakuten's first Japan Series title.
He will likely slot behind CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda in a rotation that also projects to include Ivan Nova and a spring competition for the fifth spot, with Michael Pineda, David Phelps and Adam Warren vying for that assignment.
"There is definitely some unknown because of the transition," Cashman said Friday on ESPN Radio. "We scouted him extensively. Certainly, we look forward to adding him into the mix with the rest of our rotation. That's what we look at him as: a solid potential No. 3 starter in the big leagues."
Cashman said that it would be "asking too much" for Tanaka to be a Major League ace right away because of the many adjustments he will be challenged to make. Tanaka will be learning to pitch in a five-man rotation, facing stronger lineups and working with tighter strike zones. There are also differences in the mounds and baseballs.
"Those are things he's going to have to work through and adjust to," Cashman said. "We look forward that he is a Yankee and we will be in position, with our experience in the past, to maximize his potential as he goes through that."
The Yanks have had six other Japan-born players in franchise history: Hideki Irabu (1997-99), Hideki Matsui (2003-09), Kei Igawa ('07-08), Kuroda (2012-13), Ryota Igarashi (2012) and Ichiro Suzuki ('12-13).
With Tanaka joining Kuroda, the Yankees expect to have two Japan-born pitchers in their starting rotation, becoming the first team to do so since the Dodgers had Hideo Nomo and Kazuhisa Ishii starting for them in 2004.