BRADENTON, Fla. — Koji Uehara isn’t caught up in the Masahiro Tanaka madness.
Tanaka, who signed with the New York Yankees over the offseason, has drawn plenty of attention over the last few months, culminating Saturday with his spring training debut. Uehara, who pitched a scoreless inning for the Red Sox on Monday, insisted after his outing that he hasn’t checked in on the Tanaka situation despite the buzz surrounding his fellow countryman.
“I’m not following it at all,” Tanaka said through translator C.J. Matsumoto.
Uehara’s lack of attention likely stems from the 38-year-old being too busy with his own preparation. After all, Uehara is tasked with following up an historic 2013 season, so he can’t allow himself to get too distracted by outside factors, including Tanaka’s transition from Japan to the United States.
But Uehara, as he typically does, showed a sense of humor Monday, saying once again that he isn’t the Japanese rock star everybody believes he is in the wake of last season’s World Series heroics.
“I feel that all this media probably went to (Masahiro) Tanaka and they just came to me afterwards,” Uehara joked.
Surely, there will be plenty of eyes on both Uehara and Tanaka this season, particularly when the two Japanese products meet as part of Major League Baseball’s biggest rivalry.