Media crust startles Yankees' Tanaka

Published Feb. 16, 2014

TAMPA — Right-hander Masahiro Tanaka knew he would receive a lot of attention in Yankees camp, considering his huge Japanese following and five-year, $155 million contract.

But even Tanaka, 25, wasn't expecting the nearly 100 journalists and photographers who captured his every move Saturday in his first workout as a Yankee. Fans lined the fence, some yelling his name.

"Honestly, when I stepped out on the field (Saturday), I was very, very surprised as to how many media there were out there," Tanaka said through a translator.

On a back field at the team's spring training complex, Tanaka played catch with veteran Japanese right-hander Hiroki Kuroda, threw a bullpen session alongside the other starters and went through pitcher's fielding practice before finishing with a four-lap jog.

"It really feels like now I'm ready to go out there and start this whole thing," he said. "Everything is going to be a new experience for me, so I'm very much looking forward to it."

Tanaka said he wasn't nervous, and he didn't try too hard to impress in his throwing session, even though manager Joe Girardi and general manager Brian Cashman were watching. Tanaka said the workout was shorter than those he had in Japan, but the admitted slow runner said what he'll remember the most from his first day was the four-lap finish.

"That," he said, smiling, "was pretty hard."

MORE YANKEES: While right-hander Ivan Nova said he's approaching camp like he's competing for a job, Girardi said he expects him to be in the rotation: "But I love that attitude. Because you have to perform, that's the bottom line. We're a performance-based business."

AARON HURT: Hall of Famer Hank Aaron is recovering from a partial left hip replacement. The Braves said that Aaron, 80, fell on ice Friday in Atlanta and had the procedure later in the day.

VERLANDER HEALING: Tigers right-hander Justin Verlander threw 41 pitches in his first official bullpen session of the spring. He's recovering from surgery on his abdomen in early January.

ANGELS: Left-hander Mark Mulder, attempting a comeback at age 36 after being out of baseball since 2008, ruptured his Achilles tendon, likely ending his season.

CUBS: Speedy utility man Emilio Bonifacio signed a minor-league deal with an invitation to big-league camp.

INDIANS: The club went to 2-0 in arbitration, beating right-hander Josh Tomlin, who will receive $800,000 rather than his request for $975,000. … Right-hander Aaron Harang agreed to a minor-league deal with an invitation to spring training.

REDS: First-year manager Bryan Price wants players' hair and beards to be neatly kept this season, in line with the team's policy on appearances.

Information from Times wires was used in this report.