TAMPA, Fla. – Masahiro Tanaka knew that there would be a significant transition as he shifted from playing professional baseball in Japan to joining the New York Yankees. He will have to adjust to facing better hitters and throwing with a bigger ball.
On Saturday, he showed that he will also have to grow accustomed to jogging.
"Probably what I'll remember is the four laps at the end," said Tanaka after his first official workout as a member of the Yankees. "It was pretty hard."
Tanaka, the 25-year-old Japanese import who signed a seven-year, $155 million contract last month, looked sharp as he threw a morning bullpen session to Francisco Cervelli, and completed fielding practice while media members and coaches looked on.
But the running was a problem that he brought up multiple times when talking to reporters after his workout.
"Actually, no, I didn't feel that way," Tanaka said when asked if it was more difficult to practice with all eyes on him. "But just the running part today. I said it earlier, but that one was really hard for me today."
Tanaka was not the only pitcher who had trouble with Saturday’s run. C.C. Sabathia, who has dropped nearly forty pounds since last season, bowed out well before the end.
Following Saturday’s workout, fellow Japanese pitcher Hiroki Kuroda seemed quite impressed with the team’s new star.
“He’s bound to become a staff ace for the Yankees,” Kuroda said of Tanaka. “He’s on his way.”