Masahiro Tanaka pleased with control and ready to go

Yankees relief pitcher Masahiro Tanaka delivers a warmup Yankees relief pitcher Masahiro Tanaka delivers a warmup pitch in a spring exhibition baseball game against the Miami Marlins in Tampa, Fla., Friday, March 28, 2014. Photo Credit: AP / Kathy Willens

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TAMPA, Fla. - Masahiro Tanaka struck out 10 and walked none in six innings Friday night in his final tuneup before the regular season.

And the Japanese righthander didn't need his translator when asked which of those numbers he was most pleased with.

"No walks,'' Tanaka said in English Saturday morning.

Spring training went about as well as could be expected for the Yankees' biggest offseason investment. Tanaka, signed to a seven-year, $155- million deal in January, finished with a 2.14 ERA, striking out 26 and walking three in 21 innings. That included his masterful scoreless outing Friday against the Marlins.

Now it's on to the official start of his professional career Friday in Toronto.

"I'll be looking into the Blue Bays thoroughly from here,'' Tanaka said. "As far as excitement goes, I can say I'm still not there yet.''

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That has been par for the course for Tanaka, seemingly unflappable from the time he arrived with the rest of the Yankees' pitchers and catchers in mid-February. Nothing, at least on the surface, has bothered him.

Not the intense scrutiny from the flock of media, both Japanese and American, following his every move. Not the series of adjustments he has had to make to Major League Baseball, which includes a slightly larger baseball and pitching every fifth day compared to every sixth or seventh day in Japan.

"I do feel I learned a lot throughout spring training,'' he said. "The important thing for me is to not stop here and keep learning as the season progresses.''

Tanaka, who uses an arsenal of six pitches, has drawn mostly rave reviews from opposing team players and scouts, though there have been a few exceptions.

One veteran scout, for example, said many of Tanaka's pitches come in high, resulting in too many fly balls, a potential problem at the Stadium.

The righthander said nothing has caught him completely by surprise, though the physical makeup of some of the batters he faced stood out as something he was unaccustomed to.

"The structure of their body is different here than back in Japan,'' he said. "Batters are bigger here, stronger here and they can reach out further.''

Speaking after his scoreless three-inning outing Friday night, righthander Hiroki Kuroda said that when he left his first spring training with the Dodgers before the 2008 season, he wasn't entirely sure his repertoire would be good enough to get major-league hitters out.

Obviously, it was. Kuroda enters this season 68-70 in his major-league career but has a 3.40 ERA.

Tanaka smiled but didn't directly answer when asked his thoughts on Kuroda's comments and if he can relate to them.

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"I feel that I can't overthink too much,'' Tanaka said. "What I don't know is what I don't know, so I have to go out there, keep learning and go about my business.''

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