FORT MYERS, Fla. - When six-time All-Star Joe Mauer was asked Saturday about comparable pitchers to Masahiro Tanaka, the 10-year veteran had a wealth of experience to draw from.

Max Scherzer? Zack Greinke? Dan Haren? Maybe even Hiroki Kuroda? Nope. Mauer, after a few moments, had his answer.

"There was a guy a little older -- Paul Byrd,'' Mauer said. "Kind of the same thing. You didn't really know what he was going to throw in any count. But it's hard to compare guys. It's the first time I've seen [Tanaka].''

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Byrd, who was 109-96 with a 4.41 ERA in 14 seasons for seven teams, seemed like an unusual comparison from the thoughtful Mauer.

Byrd's best year was 2002 for the Royals (17-11, 3.90). The Yankees would sign up right now to get that from Tanaka this season, but Byrd came a little cheaper. He earned $40.1 million for his career. The Yankees have invested $175 million in Tanaka, including the $20-million posting fee.