The Masahiro Tanaka press conference wasn't very long but it was packed. Jason Zillo of the Yankees said it was the largest presser since Hideki Matsui's introductory press conference in 2003 and Andrew Marchand of ESPN NY tweeted that 200 credentials were given out for today. It's no surprise. There's always a ton of fanfare when big time Japanese players come over to the States.
After some words from GM Brian Cashman and manager Joe Girardi, Tanaka stepped up to the podium. Girardi helped him with his jersey, which is #19, Tanaka placed his cap on his head and he said hello to the media.
Cashman said, “This is Yankee big. This is Steinbrenner big. Welcome to the family, and to New York, Tanaka-San.”
Tanaka stepped up to the podium and said, in English, "Hello. My name is Masahiro Tanaka. I am very happy to be a Yankee."
Then he was asked some questions by the press gathered at the Stadium. He was asked about his impressions of New York City (he said it was cloudy the first time he came to NY when he was in high school but that the sun was out today so it was nice), he was asked what his first meal was (sushi from a grocery store around the corner) and he was asked about the Yankees/Red Sox rivalry, if he had been keeping up with it. He said, “Just by watching Yankees-Red Sox, you can see how intense the games are. I’m very much looking forward to that environment.”
When asked why he chose the Yankees, Tanaka said, "I've heard that this place can be harsh to you at times but (I) wanted to test my abilities."
Tanaka seems like a man of few words. He also seemed cool, calm and collected but admitted to Michael Kay and Bob Lorenz of YES that he was a bit nervous about today's activities and felt slightly overwhelmed. I like him already because from watching how he was carrying himself he seemed very relaxed.
Oh, and Michael Kay asked him perhaps the most important question of the day, "Do you like pizza?" He nodded and answered, "Yes."
- Tanaka said he hasn't spoken to any of his new teammates yet but is looking forward to get to Tampa an introducing himself.
- He had a brief phone call with Hideki Matsui who told him how great New York was.
- The number 18 usually denotes the ace of a pitching staff but since Hiroki Kuroda already wears #18, Tanaka went up one and chose #19.