Masahiro Tanaka was introduced by the New York Yankees on Tuesday after chartering a Boeing 787 Dreamliner for his trip from Tokyo to New York.
Tanaka agreed to a seven-year, $155 million contract on Jan. 22, 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. The 25-year-old right-hander 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 said he 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,” Tanaka said through a translator. “I just wanted to put myself in this environment and see where I could get to with my ability.”
Tanaka was 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA last year, leading the Rakuten Golden Eagles of Nippon Professional Baseball to the Japan Series title.
Check out Tanaka’s introduction in the video below.