TAMPA, Fla. - Masahiro Tanaka has been in the United States just over a week and is living it up.
The most fun the 25-year-old has had to this point?
"Pitching in the bullpen," Tanaka said Tuesday. "Because I love to throw."
Tanaka smiled when he said it but, four days into his professional career with the Yankees, manager Joe Girardi has certainly noticed a business-first approach.
"He's very focused," Girardi said. "I don't think you go 24-0 if you're not a focused pitcher. He's focused on what he needs to do. He's embraced this challenge, he wants this challenge."
Girardi was among the handful of coaches to watch Tanaka's bullpen earlier in the day. "He's one of those guys you want to make sure doesn't go too fast too early and I thought he's done a very good job," Girardi said. "He felt very good about his bullpen today. He said it's the best that he's felt. Physically he said he feels good. The catcher said his stuff was great today, so that's good."
Too much for Tanaka?
Yu Darvish raised some eyebrows in commenting on Tanaka's $155-million deal, though he took to Twitter later to say he was joking.
"I don't know the details of the posting system, but I think the Yankees gave him a little bit too much," Darvish said through his translator, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
Darvish signed a six-year, $56-million deal with the Rangers and the Nippon Ham Fighters received a $51.7-million posting fee. The Yankees paid $20 million to the Rakuten Golden Eagles.
"Everybody at the news conference knows that I was just joking," Darvish wrote on Twitter. "I will never talk about Tanaka [anymore]."
Another infield option?