The New York Yankees are preparing to unleash their prized free agent Masahiro Tanaka against the Boston Red Sox for the first time.
Tuesday night will mark the first in a three game series at Fenway Park in which the Japanese right-hander is set for his first outing against Yankees' biggest rivals.
Tanaka, who signed a $155m, seven-year deal in the offseason, has had a ferocious start to life as a Yankee. With 28 strikeouts in his first three major league starts, Tanaka has already broken records in the Bronx and Red Sox manager John Farrell is looking forward to facing him.
“Anxious to see him,” Red Sox manager John Farrell told reporters about Tanaka. “He’s been a highly talked-about pitcher from Japan. The thing that impresses you is how quickly he’s acclimated to the major leagues from a different culture.”
Tanaka's opening three games have given him a 2.05 ERA, but despite the hype surrounding his arrival at Fenway, first baseman Mike Napoli insists his team will be approaching him like any other opponent.
“I think we approach him like any pitcher,” first baseman Mike Napoli said. “We’ll study the video and look for his tendencies with our scouting reports. And then you just go up there and face him and kind of feel your way around it. Sometimes you’re going to be able to pick up the ball better than other guys. You really don’t know until you face him.”
The Japanese sensation, who has a 2.05 ERA, says he is looking forward to partaking in a rivalry he used to anticipate while playing in Japan.
“I’ve seen the two teams play, and I understand there is a certain rivalry between the two teams going into the game,” Tanaka told MLB.com through an interpreter. “I’m sure the fans will be heated up a bit, and it should be a good experience going up on the mound that day. I’m very much looking forward to it.”